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Full text of "Aristophanes' apology including a transcript from Euripides being the last adventure of Balaustion"

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J ,  o  N  I)  C)  N 

\^All     right  i     ffsrrrn'J] 

oi'K  t(T0w  Kiv(6i>n   ■   nnoTau  Si  di'j/s  Ti,  KaAei  /xf. 

I  cai  no  cairimi ;  when  ynii  sacvilici- 

Smnc  cleanly  cicaUue     call  nu'  ("V  a  >licc  ! 



Wind,  wave,  and  bark,  bear  Euthukles  and  me, 
Balaustion,  from — not  sorrow  but  despair. 
Not  memory  but  the  present  and  its  pang  ! 
Athenai,  live  thou  hearted  in  my  heart : 
Never,  while  I  live,  may  I  see  thee  more. 
Never  again  may  these  repugnant  orbs 
Ache  themselves  blind  before  the  hideous  pomp. 
The  ghastly  mirth  which  mocked  thine  overthrow 
— Death's  entry,  Haides'  outrage  ! 



Doomed  to  die, — 
Fire  should  have  flung  a  passion  of  embrace 
About  thee  till,  resplendently  marmed, 
(Temple  by  temple  folded  to  his  breast. 
All  thy  white  wonder  fainting  out  in  ash) 
Some  vaporous  sigh  of  soul  had  lightly  'scaped, 
And  so  the  Immortals  bade  Athenai  back  ! 
Or  earth  might  sunder  and  absorb  thee,  save, 
Buried  below  Olumpos  and  its  gods, 
Akropolis  to  dominate  her  realm 
For  Kore,  and  console  the  ghosts ;  or,  sea, 
What  if  thy  watery  plural  vastitude. 
Rolling  unanimous  advance,  had  rushed. 
Might  upon  might,  a  moment, — stood,  one  stare, 
Sea-face  to  city-face,  thy  glaucous  wave 
Glassing  that  marbled  last  magnificence, — - 
Till  fate's  pale  tremulous  foam-flower  tipped  the  grey, 
And  when  wave  broke  and  overswarmed  and,  sucked 



To  bounds  back,  nuiltitudinously  ceased, 
And  land  again  breathed  unconfused  with  sea, 
Attlke  was,  Athenai  was  not  now  ! 

Such  end  I  could  have  borne,  for  I  had  shared. 
But  this  which,  glanced  at,  aches  within  my  orbs 
To  blinding, — bear  me  thence,  bark,  wind  and  wave 
Me,  Euthukles,  and,  hearted  in  each  heart, 
Athenai,  undisgraced  as  Pallas'  self, 
Bear  to  my  birth-place,  Helios'  island-bride, 
Zeus'  darling  :  thither  speed  us,  homeward-bound, 
Wafted  already  twelve  hours'  sail  away 
From  horror,  and  a  sunset  nearer  Rhodes  ! 

Why  should  despair  be  ?     Since,  distinct  above 
Man's  wickedness  and  folly,  flies  the  wind 
And  floats  the  cloud,  free  transport  for  our  soul 
Out  of  its  fleshly  durance  dim  and  low, — 

B  2 


Since  disembodied  soul  anticipates 

(Thought-borne  as  now,  in  rapturous  unrestraint) 

Above  all  crowding,  crystal  silentness, 

Above  all  noise,  a  silver  solitude  : — 

Surely,  where  thought  so  bears  soul,  soul  in  time 

May  permanently  bide,  "  assert  the  wise," 

There  live  in  peace,  there  work  in  hope  once  more, 

O  nothing  doubt,  Philemon  !     Greed  and  strife, 

Hatred  and  cark  and  care,  what  place  have  they 

In  yon  blue  liberality  of  heaven  ? 

How  the  sea  helps  !     How  rose-smit  earth  will  rise 

Breast-high  thence,  some  bright  morning,  and  be  Rhodes: 

Heaven,  earth  and  sea,  my  warrant — in  their  name. 

Believe— o'er  falsehood,  truth  is  surely  sphered, 

O'er  ugliness  beams  beauty,  o'er  this  world 

Extends  that  realm  where,  "  as  the  wise  assert," 

Philemon,  thou  shalt  see  Euripides 

Clearer  than  mortal  sense  perceived  the  man  ! 


A  sunset  nearer  Rhodes,  by  twelve  hours'  sweep 

Of  surge  secured  from  horror  ?     Rather  say, 

Quieted  out  of  weakness  into  strength. 

1  dare  invite,  survey  the  scene  my  sense 

Staggered  to  apprehend  :  for,  disenvolved 

From  the  mere  outside  anguish  and  contempt. 

Slowly  a  justice  centred  in  a  doom 

Reveals  itself.     Ay,  pride  succumbed  to  pride, 

Oppression  met  the  oppressor  and  its  match. 

Athenai's  vaunt  braved  Spartd's  violence 

Till,  in  tlie  shock,  prone  fell  Peiraios,  low 

Rampart  and  bulwark  lay,  as, — timing  stroke 

Of  hammer,  axe,  beam  hoist  and  poised  and  swung, — 

The  very  flute-girls  blew  their  laughing  best. 

In  dance  about  the  conqueror  while  he  bade 

Music  and  merriment  help  enginery 

Batter  down,  break  to  pieces  all  their  trust, 

Those  citizens  once,  slaves  now.     See  what  walls 


Play  substitute  for  the  long  double  range 
Themistoklean,  heralding  a  guest 
From  harbour  on  to  citadel !     Each  side 
The  senseless  walls  demolished  stone  by  stone, 
See, — outer  wall  as  stonelike, — heads  and  hearts, — 
Athenai's  terror-stricken  populace  ! 
Prattlers,  tongue-tied  in  crouching  abjectness, — 
Braggarts,  who  wring  hands  wont  to  flourish  swords- 
Sophist  and  rhetorician,  demagogue, 
(Argument  dumb,  authority  a  jest) 
Dikast  and  heliast,  pleader,  litigant. 
Quack-priest,  sham-prophecy-retailer,  scout 
O'  the  customs,  sycophant,  whate'er  the  style, 
Altar-scrap-snatcher,  pimp  and  parasite, — 
Rivalities  at  truce  now  each  with  each. 
Stupefied  mud-banks, — that's  the  use  they  serve  ! 
While  the  one  order  which  performs  exact 
To  promise,  functions  faithful  last  as  first. 

A  RIS  TO  PH.  I NES '   A  POL  OGV. 

^Vhat  is  it  but  the  city's  lyric  troop, 
Chantress  and  psaltress,  flute-girl,  dancing-girl  ? 
Athenai's  harlotry  takes  laughing  care 
Their  patron  miss  no  i)ipings,  late  she  loved, 
But  deathward  tread  at  least  the  kordax-step. 

Die  then,  who  pulled  such  glory  on  your  heads  ! 
There  let  it  grind  to  powder  !     Perikles ! 
The  living  are  the  dead  now  :  death  be  life  ! 
Wh)'  should  the  sunset  yonder  waste  its  wealth  ? 
Prove  thee  Olympian  !  If  my  heart  supply 
Inviolate  the  structure, — true  to  type. 
Build  me  some  spirit-place  no  flesh  shall  find. 
As  Pheidias  may  inspire  thee  ;  slab  on  slab. 
Renew  Athenai,  quarry  out  the  cloud, 
Convert  to  gold  yon  west  extravagance  ! 
'Neath  Propulaia,  from  Akropolis 
By  vapoury  grade  and  grade,  gold  all  the  way. 

ARISroniA  NES '    A  POL  OGY. 

Step  to  thy  snow-Pnux,  mount  thy  Bema-cloud, 

Thunder  and  hghten  thence  a  Hellas  through 

That  shall  be  better  and  more  beautiful 

And  too  august  for  Sparte's  foot  to  spurn  ! 

Chasmed  in  the  crag,  again  our  Theatre 

Predominates,  one  purple  :  Staghunt-month, 

Brings  it  not  Dionusia  ?     Hail,  the  Three  ! 

Aischulos,  Sophokles,  Euripides 

Compete,  gain  prize  or  lose  prize,  godlike  still. 

Nay,  lest  they  lack  the  old  god-exercise — ■ 

Their  noble  want  the  unworthy, — as  of  old, 

(How  otherwise  should  patience  crown  their  might  ?) 

What  if  each  find  his  ape  promoted  man, 

His  censor  raised  for  antic  service  still  ? 

Some  new  Hermippos  to  pelt  Perikles, 

Kratinos  to  swear  Pheidias  robbed  a  shrine, 

Eruxis — I  suspect,  Euripides, 

No  brow  will  ache  because  with  mop  and  mow 


He  gibes  my  poet  ?     There's  a  dog-faced  dwarf 
That  gets  to  godship  somehow,  yet  retauis 
His  apehood  in  the  Egyptian  hierarchy, 
More  decent  yet  indecorous  enough  : 
Why  should  not  dog-ape,  graced  in  due  degree, 
(kow  Momos  as  thou  Zeus  ?     Or  didst  thou  sigh 
Rightly  with  thy  iMakaria?     "  After  life, 
Better  no  sentiency  than  turbulence  ; 
Death  cures  the  low  contention."     Be  it  so  ! 
Yet  progress  means  contention,  to  my  mind. 

Euthukles,  who,  except  a  love  that  speaks. 
Art  silent  by  my  side  while  words  of  mine 
Provoke  that  foe  from  which  escape  were  vain 
Henceforward,  wake  Athenai's  fate  and  fall, — 
Do  I  amiss,  who  wanting  strength  use  craft, 
Advance  upon  the  foe  I  cannot  tl_\', 
Nor  feign  a  snake  is  dormant  though  it  gnaw  ? 


That  flite  and  fall,  once  bedded  in  our  brain, 
Roots  itself  past  upwrenching ;  but  coaxed  forth, 
Encouraged  out  to  practise  fork  and  fang, — 
Possibly,  satiate  with  prompt  sustenance. 
It  may  pine  off  far  likelier  than  left  swell 
In  jieace  by  our  pretension  to  ignore, 
Or  pricked  to  threefold  fury,  should  our  stamp 
Bruise  and  not  brain  the  pest. 

A  middle  course  ! 
What  hinders  that  we  treat  this  tragic  theme 
As  the  Three  taught  when  either  woke  some  woe, 
— How  Klutaimnestra  hated,  what  the  pride 
Of  lokaste,  why  Medeia  clove 
Nature  asunder.     Small  rebuked  by  large, 
We  felt  our  puny  hates  refine  to  air. 
Our  prides  as  poor  prevent  the  humbling  hand. 
Our  petty  passion  purify  its  tide. 


So,  Euthukles,  permit  the  tragedy 

'J'o  re-enact  itself,  this  voyage  through, 

Till  sunsets  end  and  sunrise  brighten  Rhodes  ! 

Majestic  on  the  stage  of  memor}% 

Peplosed  and  kothorned,  let  Athenai  fall 

Once  more,  nay,  oft  again  till  life  conclude, 

Lent  for  the  lesson  :  Choros,  I  and  thou  1 

What  else  in  life  seems  piteous  anymore 

After  such  pity,  or  proves  terrible 

Beside  such  terror  ? 

Still — since  Phnmichos 
Oftended,  by  too  premature  a  touch 
Of  that  Milesian  smart-place  freshly  frayed — 
(Ah,  my  poor  people,  whose  prompt  remedy 
Was — fine  the  poet,  not  reform  thyself!) 
Beware  precipitate  approach  !     Rehearse 
Rather  the  prologue,  well  a  year  away, 


llian  the  main  misery,  a  sunset  old. 
What  else  but  fitting  prologue  to  the  piece  ** 

Style  an  adventure,  stranger  than  my  first 
By  so  much  as  the  issue  it  enwombed 
Lurked  big  beyond  Balaustion's  littleness  ? 
Second  supreme  adventure  !     O  that  Spring, 
That  eve  I  told  the  earlier  to  my  ft-iends  ! 
Where   are   the   four   now,   with    each   red-ripe 

Crumpled  so  close,  no  quickest  breath  it  fetched 
Could  disengage  the  lip-flower  furled  to  bud 
Yox  fear  Admetos, — shivering  head  and  foot, 
As  with  sick  soul  and  blind  averted  face 
He  trusted  hand  forth  to  obey  his  friend, — 
Should  find  no  wife  in  her  cold  hand's  response. 
Nor  see  the  disenshrouded  statue  start 
Alkestis,  live  the  life  and  love  the  love  ! 
I  wonder,  does  the  streamlet  ripj)le  still. 


Out-smoothing  galingal  and  watermint 

Its  mat-floor  ?  while  at  brim,  'twixt  sedge  and  sedge, 

What  bubbhngs  past  Baccheion,  broadened  much, 

I'ricked  by  tlie  reed  and  fretted  l)y  the  fly, 

Oared  by  the  boatman-spider's  pair  of  arms! 

Lenaia  was  a  gladsome  month  ago — 

Euripides  had  taught  "  Andromede  :  " 

Next  mouth,  would  teach  "  Kresphontes  " — which  same 

Someone  from  Phokis,  who  companioned  me 
Since  all  that  happened  on  those  temple-steps. 
Would  marry  me  antl  turn  Athenian  too. 
Now  !  if  next  year  the  masters  let  the  slaves 
Do  Bacchic  service  and  restore  mankind 
Tliat  trilogy  whereof,  'tis  noised,  one  play 
Presents  the  Bacchai, — no  Euripides 
Will  teach  the  choros,  nor  shall  we  be  tinged 
By  any  such  grand  sunset  of  his  soul, 


Exiles  from  dead  Athenai, — not  the  new 
That's  in  the  cloud  there  with  the  star  above  ! 

Speak  to  the  infinite  intelligence, 

Sing  to  the  everlasting  sympathy ! 

Winds  belly  sail,  and  drench  of  dancing  brine 

Buffet  our  boat-side,  so  the  prore  bound  free  ! 

Condense  our  voyage  into  one  great  day 

Made  up  of  sunset-closes  :  eve  by  eve, 

Resume  that  memorable  night-discourse 

'\Vhen, — like  some  meteor-brilliance,  fire  and  filth, 

Or  say,  his  own  Amphitheos,  deity 

And  dung,  who,  bomid  on  the  gods'  embassage, 

Got  men's  acknowledgment  in  kick  and  cuff — 

We  made  acquaintance  with  a  visitor 

Ominous,  apparitional,  who  went 

Strange  as  he  came,  but  shall  not  pass  away. 

Let  us  attempt  that  memorable  talk, 


Clothe  the  adventure's  every  incident 
With  due  expression  :  may  not  looks  be  told, 
Gesture  made  speak,  and  speech  so  amplified 
That   words   find    blood-warmth   which,    cold-writ,  they 

Recall  the  night  we  heard  the  news  from  Thrace, 
One  year  ago,  Athenai  still  herself. 

\V' e  two  were  sitting  silent  in  the  house, 
Yet  cheerless  hardly.     Euthukles,  forgive  ■! 
I  somehow  speak  to  unseen  auditors. 
Not  jw/,  but — Euthukles  had  entered,  grave. 
Grand,  may  I  say,  as  who  brings  laurel-branch 
And  message  from  the  tripod  :  such  it  proved. 

He  first  removed  the  garland  from  his  brow. 
Then  took  my  hand  and  looked  into  my  face. 


"  Speak  good  words  ! "  much  misgiving  faultered  I. 

"  Good  words,  the  best,  Balaustion  !     He  is  crowned, 
Gone  with  his  Attic  ivy  home  to  feast, 
Since  Aischulos  required  comjjanionship. 
Pour  a  hbation  for  Euripides  !  " 

When  we  had  sat  the  heavier  silence  out — 

"  Dead  and  triumphant  still  !"  began  reply 

To  my  eye's  question.     "  As  he  willed,  he  worked  : 

And,  as  he  worked,  he  wanted  not,  be  sure, 

Triumph  his  whole  life  through,  submitting  work 

To  work's  right  judges,  never  to  the  wrong, 

To  competency,  not  inejjtitude. 

^Vhen  he  had  run  life's  proper  race  and  worked 

Quite  to  the  stade's  end,  there  remained  to  try 

Its  turning,  should  strength  dare  the  double  course. 

Half  the  diaulos  reached,  the  hundred  plays 


Accomplished,  force  in  its  rebound  sufficed 
To  lift  along  the  athlete  and  ensure 
A  second  wreath,  proposed  by  fools  for  first, 
The  statist's  olive  as  the  poet's  bay. 
Wiselier,  he  suftered  not  confuse  his  sight, 
Retard  his  pace  a  twofold  aim,  at  once 
Poet  and  statist ;  though  the  multitude 
Girded  him  ever  '  All  thine  aim  thine  art  ? 
The  idle  poet  only  ?     No  regard 
For  civic  duty,  public  service,  here  ? 
"We  drop  our  ballot-bean  for  Sophokles  ! 
Not  only  could  he  write  '  Antigone,' 
But — since,  we  argued,  whoso  penned  that  piece 
Might  just  as  well  conduct  a  squadron, — straight 
Good-naturedly  he  took  on  him  command. 
Got  laughed  at  and  went  back  to  making  plays. 
Having  allowed  us  our  experiment 
Respecting  the  fit  use  of  faculty.' 


No  whit  the  more  did  athlete  slacken  pace. 
Soon  the  jeers  grew  :     '  Cold  hater  of  his  kind, 
A  sea-cave  suits  him,  not  the  vulgar  hearth  I 
What  need  of  tongue-talk,  with  a  bookish  store 
AVould  stock  ten  cities  ? '     Shadow  of  an  ass  ! 
No  whit  the  worse  did  athlete  touch  the  mark 
And,  at  the  turning-point,  consign  his  scorn 
O'  the  scorners  to  that  final  trilogy 
'  Hupsipule,'  '  Phoinissai,'  and  the  Match 
Of  Life  Contemplative  with  Active  Life, 
Zethos  against  Amphion.     Ended  so  ? 
Nowise  ! — began  again  ;  for  heroes  rest 
Dropping  shield's  oval  o'er  the  entire  man  ; 
And  he  who  thus  took  Contemplation's  prize, 
Turned  stade-point  but  to  face  Activity. 
Out  of  all  shadowy  hands  extending  help 
For  life's  decline  pledged  to  youth's  enterprise, 
Whatever  renovation  flatter  age, — 


Society  with  pastime,  solitude 

AVitli  peace, — he  chose  the  hand  that  gave  the  heart, 

Bade  Macedonian  Archelaos  take 

The  leavings  of  Athenai,  ash  once  flame. 

For  fifty  politicians'  frosty  make, 

One  poet's  ash  found  ample  and  to  spare, 

He  propped  the  state  and  filled  the  treasury  : 

Counseled  the  king  as  might  a  meaner  soul. 

Furnished  the  friend  with  what  shall  stand  in  stead 

Of  crown  and  scei:)tre,  star  his  name  about 

When  these  are  dust  ;  for  him,  Euripides 

Last  the  old  hand  on  the  old  phorminx  flung. 

Clashed  thence  'Alkaion,'  maddened  'Pentheus'  up; 

Then  music  sighed  itself  away,  one  moan 

Iphigeneia  made  by  Aulis'  strand  ; 

With  her  and  music  died  Euripides. 

"  The  poet-friend  who  followed  him  to  Thrace, 
c  2 


Agathon,  wrote  thus  much  :  the  merchant- ship 
Moreover  brought  a  message  from  the  king 
To  young  Euripides,  who  went  on  board 
I'his  morning  at  Mounuchia  :  all  is  true." 

I  said  "  Thank  Zeus  for  the  great  news  and  good  i 

"  Nay,  the  report  is  nmning  in  brief  fire 

Through  the  town's  stubbly  furrow,"  he  resumed  : 

— "  Entertains  brightly  what  their  favourite  styles 

'  The  City  of  Gapers '  for  a  week  perhaps, 

Supplants  three  luminous  tales,  but  yesterday 

Pronounced  sufficient  lamps  to  last  the  month  : 

How  Glauketes,  outbidding  Morsimos, 

Paid  market-price  for  one  Kopaic  eel 

A  thousand  drachmai,  and  then  cooked  his  prize 

Not  proper  conger-fashion  but  in  oil 

And  nettles,  as  man  fries  the  foam-fish-kind  ; 

ARlSTOrilANES '   A  POL  OG  Y. 

How  all  the  captains  of  the  triremes,  late 
Victors  at  Arginousai,  on  return 
Will,  for  reward,  be  straightway  put  to  death  ; 
How  Mikon  wagered  a  Thessalian  mime 
Trained  him  by  Lais,  looked  on  as  complete, 
Against  Leogoras'  blood-mare  koi)pa-marked, 
Valued  six  talents, — swore,  accomplished  so, 
The  girl  could  swallow  at  a  draught,  nor  breathe, 
A  choinix  of  unmixed  Mendesian  wine ; 
And  having  lost  the  match  will — dine  on  herbs  ! 
Three  stories  late  a-flame,  at  once  extinct. 
Out-blazed  by  just  '  Euripides  is  dead  '  ! 

"  I  met  the  concourse  from  the  Theatre, 
The  audience  flocking  homeward  :  victory 
Again  awarded  Aristophanes 
Precisely  for  his  old  play  chopped  and  changed 
'  The  Female  Celebrators  of  the  Feast ' — 


That  Thesmophoria  :  tried  a  second  time, 
'  Never  such  full  success  ! ' — assured  the  folk, 
Who  yet  stopped  praising  to  have  word  of  mouth 
With  '  Euthukles,  the  bard's  own  intimate, 
Balaustion's  husband,  the  right  man  to  ask.' 

'  Dead,  yes,  but  how  dead,  may  acquaintance  know  ? 
You  were  the  couple  constant  at  his  cave  : 
Tell  us  now,  is  it  true  that  women,  moved 
By  reason  of  his  liking  Krateros  .  .  .' 

"  I  answered  '  He  was  loved  by  Sokrates.' 

'  Nay,'  said  another,  '  envy  did  the  work  ! ' 
For,  emulating  poets  of  the  place. 
One  Arridaios,  one  Krateues,  both 
Established  in  the  royal  favor,  these  .  .  . 

"  Protagoras  instructed  him,"  said  I. 


'  /%//,'  whistled  Comic  Platoii,  '  hear  the  fact ! 

'Twas  well  said  of  your  friend  by  Sophokles 

"  He  hate  our  women  ?     In  his  verse,  belike. 

But  when  it  comes  to  prose-work, — ha,  ha,  ha  !  " 

New  climes  don't  change  old  manners  :  so,  it  chanced, 

Pursuing  an  intrigue  one  moonless  night 

^Vith  Arcthousian  Nikodikos'  wife, 

(Come  now,  his  years  were  simply  seventy-five) 

Crossing  the  palace-court,  what  haps  he  on 

But  Archelaos'  pack  of  hungry  hounds  ? 

Who  tore  him  piecemeal  ere  his  cry  brought  helj).' 

'■  I  asked  :  Did  not  you  write  '  The  Festivals?' 
You  best  know  what  dog  tore  him  when  alive. 
You  others,  who  now  make  a  ring  to  hear, 
Have  not  you  just  enjoyed  a  second  treat, 
Proclaimed  that  ne'er  was  play  more  worthy  prize 
Than  this,  myself  assisted  at,  last  year, 


And  gave  its  worth  to, — spitting  on  the  same  ? 
Appraise  no  poetry, — price  cuttlefish, 
Or  that  seaweed-alphestes,  scorpion-sort, 
Much  famed  for  mixing  mud  with  fantasy 
Of  midnights  !  I  interpret  no  foul  dreams." 

If  so  said  Euthukles,  so  could  not  I, 

Balaustion,  say.     After  '  Lusistrate ' 

No  more  for  me  of  "  people's  privilege," 

No  witnessing  "  the  grand  old  Comedy 

Coeval  with  our  freedom,  which,  curtailed, 

Were  freedom's  deathblow  :  relic  of  the  past, 

When  Virtue  laughingly  told  truth  to  Vice, 

Uncensured,  since  the  stern  mouth,  stuffed  with  flowers, 

Through  poetry  breathed  satire,  perfumed  blast 

Which  sense  snuffed  up  while  searched  unto  the  bone  ! '' 

I  was  a  stranger  :  "  For  first  joy,"  urged  friends, 

"  Go  hear  our  Comedy,  some  patriot  piece 


That  plies  the  selfish  advocates  of  war 

With  argument  so  iinevadible 

That  crash  fall  Kleons  whom  the  finer  i)lay 

Of  reason,  tickling,  deeper  wounds  no  whit 

Than  would  a  spear-thrust  from  a  savory-stalk  ! 

No  :  you  hear  knave  and  fool  told  crime  and  fault, 

And  see  each  scourged  his  quantity  of  stripes. 

'  Rough  dealing,  awkward  language,'  whine  our  fops : 

The  world's  too  squeamish  now  to  bear  plain  words 

Concerning  deeds  it  acts  with  gust  enough  : 

But,  thanks  to  wine-lees  and  democracy. 

We've  still  our  stage  where  truth  calls  spade  a  spade  ! 

Ashamed  ?    Phuromachos'  decree  provides 

The  sex  may  sit  discreetly,  witness  all. 

Sorted,  the  good  with  good,  the  gay  with  gay, 

Themselves  unseen,  no  need  to  force  a  blush. 

A  Rhodian  wife  and  ignorant  so  long  ? 

Go  hear  next  play  1  " 


I  heard  '  Lusistrate.' 
Waves,  said  to  wash  poUution  from  the  world, 
Take  that  plague-memory,  cure  that  pustule  caught 
As,  past  escape,  I  sat  and  saw  the  piece 
By  one  appalled  at  Phaidra's  fate, — the  chaste, 
Whom,  because  chaste,  the  wicked  goddess  chained 
To  that  same  serpent  of  unchastity 
She   loathed   most,   and   who,    coiled   so,    died   dis- 
Rather  than  make  submission,  loose  one  limb 
Love-wards,  at  lambency  of  honeyed  tongue, 
Or  torture  of  the  scales  which  scraped  her  snow 
— I  say,  the  piece  by  him  who  charged  this  piece 
(Because  Euripides  shrank  not  to  teach. 
If  gods  be  strong  and  wicked,  man,  though  weak, 
May  prove  their  match  by  willing  to  be  good) 
With  infamies  the  Scythian's  whip  should  cure — 
'  Such  outrage  done  the  public — Phaidra  named  ! 


Such  purpose  to  corrupt  ingenuous  youth, 
Such  insult  cast  on  female  character  ! ' — 
^^'hy,  when  I  saw  that  bestiality — 
So  beyond  all  brute-beast  imagining, 
That  when,  to  point  the  moral  at  the  close, 
Poor  Salabaccho,  just  to  show  how  fair 
Was  *  Reconciliation,'  stripped  her  charms. 
That  exhibition  simply  bade  us  breathe, 
Seemed  something  healthy  and  commendable 
After  obscenity  grotesqucd  so  much 
It  slunk  away  revolted  at  itself. 
Henceforth  I  had  my  answer  when  our  sage 
Pattern-proposing  seniors  pleaded  grave 
"  You  fail  to  fathom  here  the  deep  design  ! 
All's  acted  in  the  interest  of  tmth, 
Religion,  and  those  manners  old  and  dear 
"V\niich  made  our  city  great  when  citizens 
Like  Aristeides  and  Miltiades 


Wore  each  a  golden  tettix  in  his  hair." 
What  do  they  wear  now  under — Kleophon  ? 

Well,  for  such  reasons, — I  am  out  of  breath, 
But  loathsomeness  we  needs  must  hurry  past, — 
I  did  not  go  to  see,  nor  then  nor  now, 
The  "  Thesmophoriazousai."     But,  since  males 
Choose    to    brave    first,    blame    afterward,    nor 

Without  fair  taste  of  what  they  stigmatize, 
Euthukles  had  not  missed  the  first  display. 
Original  portrait  of  Euripides 
By  "  Virtue  laughingly  reproving  Vice  "  : 
"  Virtue," — the  author,  Aristophanes, 
Who  mixed  an  image  out  of  his  own  depths. 
Ticketed  as  I  tell  you.     Oh,  this  time 
No  more  pretension  to  recondite  worth  ! 
No  joke  in  aid  of  Peace,  no  demagogue 


Pun-pelleted  from  Pnux,  no  kordax-dance 

Overt  helped  covertly  the  Ancient  Faith  ! 

All  now  was  muck,  home-i)roduce,  honestman 

The  author's  soul  secreted  to  a  play 

^Vhich  gained  the  prize  that  day  we  heard  the  death. 

I  thought  "  How  thoroughly  death  alters  things  ! 
Where  is  the  wrong  now,  done  our  dead  and  great  ? 
How  natural  seems  grandeur  in  relief, 
Cliff-base  with  frothy  spites  against  its  calm  ! " 

Euthukles  interposed— he  read  my  thought — 

"  O'er  them,  too,  in  a  moment  came  the  change. 
The  crowd 's  enthusiastic,  to  a  man  : 
Since,  rake  as  such  may  please  the  ordure  heap 
Because  of  certain  sparkles  presumed  ore. 
At  first  flash  of  true  lightning  overhead, 


They  look  up,  nor  resume  their  search  too  soon. 

The  insect-scattering  sign  is  evident, 

And  nowhere  winks  a  fire-fly  rival  now, 

Nor  bustles  any  beetle  of  the  brood 

With  trundled  dung-ball  meant  to  menace  heaven. 

Contrariwise,  the  cry  is  '  Honor  him  ! ' 

'  A  statue  in  the  theatre  ! '  wants  one  ; 

Another  '  Bring  the  poet's  body  back, 

Bury  him  in  Peiraios  :  o'er  his  tomb 

Let  Alkamenes  carve  the  music-witch. 

The  songstress-seiren,  meed  of  melody  : 

Thoukudides  invent  his  epitaph  ! ' 

To-night  the  whole  town  pays  its  tribute  thus." 

Our  tribute  should  not  be  the  same,  my  friend  ! 
Statue  ?     Within  our  heart  he  stood,  he  stands  ! 
As  for  the  vest  outgrown  now  by  the  form, 
Low  flesh  that  clothed  high  soul, — a  vesture's  fate 


AVliy,  let  it  fade,  mix  witli  the  elements 

There  where  it,  flilling,  freed  Euripides  ! 

But  for  the  soul  that's  tutelary  now 

Till  time  end,  o'er  the  world  to  teach  and  bless — 

How  better  hail  its  freedom  than  by  first 

Singing,  we  two,  its  own  song  back  again, 

Up  to  that  face  from  whicli  flowed  beauty — f;ice 

Now  abler  to  see  triumph  and  take  love 

Than  when  it  glorified  Athenai  once  ? 

The  sweet  and  strange  Alkestis,  which  saved  me, 
Secured  me — you,  ends  nowise,  to  my  mind, 
In  pardon  of  Admetos.     Hearts  are  fain 
To  follow  cheerful  weary  Herakles 
Striding  away  from  the  huge  gratitude. 
Club  shouldered,  lion-fleece  round  loin  and  flank, 
Bound  on  the  next  new  labour  "  height  o'er  height 
Ever  surmounting, — destiny's  decree  !  " 


Thither  He  helps  us  :  that's  the  story's  end  ; 
He  smihng  said  so,  when  I  told  him  mine — 
My  great  adventure,  how  Alkestis  helped. 
Afterward,  when  the  time  for  parting  fell, 
He  gave  me,  with  two  other  precious  gifts. 
This  third  and  best,  consummating  the  grace, 
"  Herakles,"  Avrit  by  his  own  hand,  each  line. 

"  If  it  have  worth,  reward  is  still  to  seek. 
Somebody,  I  forget  who,  gained  the  prize 
And  proved  arch-poet  :  time  must  show  !  "  he  smiled 
"Take  this,  and,  when  the  noise  tires  out,  judge  me  — 
Some  day,  not  slow  to  dawn,  when  somebody — 
Who?  I  forget — proves  nobody  at  all  !  " 

Is  not  that  day  come  ?     What  if  you  and  I 
Re-sing  the  song,  inaugurate  the  fame  ? 
We  have  not  waited  to  acquaint  ourselves 


Witli  song  and  subject ;  we  can  prologuize 

How,  at  Eurustheus'  bidding, — hate  strained  hard, — 

Herakles  had  departed,  one  time  more, 

On  his  last  labour,  worst  of  all  the  twelve  ; 

Descended  into  Haides,  thence  to  drag 

The  triple-headed  hound,  which  sun  should  see 

Spite  of  the  god  whose  darkness  whelped  the  Fear. 

Down   went   the    hero,   "back  —  how    should    he 

come  ?  " 
So  laughed  King  Lukos,  an  old  eneiny, 
Who  in  that  prolonged  absence,  i)lain  defeat 
Of  the  land's  loved  one, — for  he  saved  the  land 
And  for  that  serv^ice  wedded  Megara 
Daughter  of  Thebai,  realm  her  child  should  mle, — 
Saw  his  occasion,  seized  the  tempting  prey. 
The  Heracleian  House,  defenceless  left. 
Father  and  wife  and  child,  to  trample  out 
Trace  of  its  hearth-fire  :  since  extreme  old  age 



Wakes  pity,  woman's  wrong  wins  championship, 
And  the  child  grows  the  man  and  takes  revenge. 
Hence  see  we  that,  from  out  their  palace-home 
Hunted,  for  last  resource  they  cluster  now 
Couched  on  the  cold  ground,  hapless  supplicants 
About  their  court-yard  altar, — Household  Zeus, — 
Delaying  death  so,  till  deliverance  come — 
When  did  it  ever  ? — from  the  deep  and  dark. 
And  thus  breaks  silence  old  Amphitruon"s  voice.  .  . 
Say  I  not  true  thus  far,  my  Euthukles  ? 

Suddenly,  torch-light !  knocking  at  the  door, 
Loud,  quick,  "  Admittance  for  the  revel's  lord  !  " 
Some  unintelligible  Komos-cry — 
Raiu-fiesh  red,  no  cap  upon  his  head, 
DioJiusos,  Bacchos,  Fhaks,  lacxhos, 
In  let  him  reel  with  the  kid-skin  at  his  heel, 
Where  it  buries  in  the  spread  of  the  bushy  myrtle-bed  I 


(Our  Rhodian  Jackdaw-song  was  sense  to  that  !) 
Tlien  laughter,  outbursts  ruder  and  more  rude, 
Through  which,  with  silver  point,  a  fluting  pierced, 
And  ever  "  Open,  open,  Bacchos  bids  ! " 

But  at  last — one  authoritative  word  ! 
One  name  of  an  immense  significance  : 
For  Euthukles  rose  up,  threw  wide  the  door. 

There  trooped  the  Choros  of  the  Comedy 
Crowned  and  triumphant ;  first,  those  flushed  Fifteen, 
!Men  that  wore  women's  garb,  grotesque  disguise. 
Then  marched  the  Three, — who  played  Mnesilochos, 
Who,  Toxotes,  and  who,  robed  right,  masked  rare, 
Monkeyed  our  Great  and  Dead  to  heart's  content 
That  morning  in  Athenai.     Masks  were  down 
And    robes    doffed    now;     the    sole    disguise    was 


Mixing  with  these — I  know  not  what  gay  crowd, 
Girl-dancers,  flute-boys,  and  pre-eminent 
Among  them, — doubtless  draped  with  such  reserve 
As  stopped  fear  of  the  fifty-drachma  fine 
(Beside  one's  name  on  pubUc  fig-tree  nailed) 
Which  women  pay  who  in  the  streets  walk  bare, — 
Behold  Elaphion  of  the  Persic  dance  ! 
Who  lately  had  frisked  fawn-foot,  and  the  rest, 
— All  for  the  Patriot  Cause,  the  Antique  Faith, 
The  Conservation  of  True  Poesy — 
Could  I  but  penetrate  the  deep  design  ! 
Elaphion,  more  Peiraios-known  as  "  Phaps," 
Tripped  at  the  head  of  the  whole  bancj^uet-band 
Who  came  in  front  now,  as  the  first  fell  back  ; 
And  foremost — the  authoritative  voice. 
The  revel-leader,  he  who  gained  the  prize, 
And  got  the  glorj'  of  the  Archon's  feast — 
There  stood  in  person  Aristophanes. 


And  no  ignoble  presence  !     On  the  bulge 

(Jf  the  clear  baldness, — all  his  head  one  brow, — 

True,  the  veins  swelled,  blue  network,  and  there  surged 

\  red  from  cheek  to  temple, — then  retired 

As  if  the  dark-leaved  chaplet  damped  a  flame, — 

\Vas  never  nursed  by  temperance  or  health. 

But  huge  the  eyeballs  rolled  black  native  fire, 

Imperiously  triumphant  :  nostrils  wide 

Waited  their  incense  ;  while  the  pursed  mouth's  pout 

Aggressive,  while  the  beak  supreme  above, 

While  the  head,  face,  nay,  pillared  throat  thrown  back, 

Deard  whitening  under  like  a  vinous  foam. 

These  made  a  glor}^,  of  such  insolence — 

I  thought, — such  domineering  deity 

Hephaistos  might  have  carved  to  cut  the  brine 

I'or  his  gay  brother's  prow,  imbrue  that  path 

Which,  purpling,  recognized  the  conqueror. 

Impudent  and  majestic  :  drunk,  perhaps. 


But  tliat's  religion  ;  sense  too  plainly  snuffed  : 
Still,  sensuality  was  grown  a  rite. 

What  I  had  disbelieved  most,  proved  most  true. 

There  was  a  mind  here,  mind  a- wantoning 

At  ease  of  undisputed  mastery 

Over  the  body's  brood,  those  appetites. 

Oh,  but  he  grasped  them  grandly,  as  the  god 

His  either  struggling  handful, — hurtless  snakes 

Held  deep  down,  strained  hard  oif  from  side  and  side  1 

jMastery  his,  theirs  simply  servitude, 

So  well  could  firm  fist  help  intrepid  eye. 

Fawning  and  fulsome,  had  they  licked  and  hissed  ? 

At  mandate  of  one  muscle,  order  reigned. 

They  had  been  wreathing  much  familiar  now 

About  him  on  his  entry ;  but  a  squeeze 

Choaked  down  the  pests  to  place  :  their  lord  stood  free. 

Forward  he  stepped,  I  rose  and  fronted  him. 


"  Hail,  house,  the  friendly  to  Euripides  !  " 

(So  he  began)  "  Hail,  each  inhabitant ! 

You,  lady  ?     AMiat,  the  Rhodian  ?     Form  and  face. 

Victory's  self  upsoaring  to  receive 

The   poet?      Right   they   named   you    .  .  .    some    rich 

Vowel-buds  thorned  about  with  consonants, 
Fragrant,  felicitous,  rose-glow  enriched 
IJy  the  Isle's  unguent :  some  diminished  end 
In  ion,  Kallistion?  delicater  still, 
Kubelion  or  Melittion,— or,  suppose, 
(Less  vulgar  love  than  bee  or  violet) 
Phibalion,  for  the  mouth  split  red-fig-wise, 
Korakinidion,  for  the  coal-black  hair, 
Nettarion,  Phabion,  for  the  darlingness? 
But  no,  it  was  some  fruit-flower,  Rhoidion  .  .  .  ha. 
We  near  the  balsam-bloom — Balaustion  !  Thanks, 
Rhodes  !  Folk  have  called  me  Rhodian,  do  you  know  ? 


Not  fools  so  far  !  Because,  if  Helios  wived, 
As  Pindaros  sings  somewhere  prettily, 
Here  blooms  his  offspring,  earth-flesh  with  sun-fire, 
Rhodes'  blood  and  Helios'  gold.     My  phorminx,  boy  ! 
^Vhy  does  the  boy  hang  back  and  baulk  an  ode 
Tiptoe  at  spread  of  wing  ?     But  like  enough, 
Sunshine  frays  torchlight.     Witness  whom  you  scare, 
Superb  Balaustion  !    Look  outside  the  house  ! 
Pho,  you  have  quenched  my  Komos  by  first  frown, 
Struck  dead  all  joyance  :  not  a  fluting  puffs 
From  idle  cheekband  !  Ah,  my  Choros  too  ? 
You've  eaten  cuckoo  apple  ?     Dumb,  you  dogs  ? 
So  much  good  Thasian  wasted  on  your  throats 
And  out  of  them  not  one  TJirdtajielo  ? 
Neblardai !  Because  this  earth-and-sun 
Product  looks  wormwood  and  all  bitter  herbs  ? 
Well,  do  I  blench,  though  me  she  hates  the  most 
Of  mortals  ?     By  the  cabbage,  off  they  slink  ! 


You,  too,  my  Chrusomelolonthion-Phaps, 

Girl-goldling-beetle-beauty  ?    You,  abashed, 

"Who  late,  supremely  unabashable, 

Propped  up  my  play  at  that  important  point 

When  Artamouxia  tricks  the  Toxotes  ? 

Ha,  ha, — thank  Hermes  for  the  lucky  throw, — 

We  came  last  comedy  of  the  whole  seven, 

So  went  all  fresh  to  judgment  well-disposed 

For  who  should  fatly  feast  them,  eye  and  ear, 

W^e  two  between  us  !  What,  you  fail  your  friend  ? 

Away  then,  free  me  of  your  cowardice  ! 

Go,  get  you  the  goat's  breakfast !  Fare  afield, 

Ye  circumcised  of  Egypt,  pigs  to  sow. 

Back  to  the  Priest's  or  forward  to  the  crows, 

So  you  but  rid  me  of  such  company  ! 

Once  left  alone,  I  can  protect  myself 

From  statuesque  Balaustion  pedestalled 

On  much  disapprobation  and  mistake  ! 


She  dares  not  beat  the  sacred  brow,  beside  ! 
Bacchos'  equipment,  ivy  safeguards  well 
As  Phoibos'  bay. 

"  They  take  me  at  my  word  ! 
One  comfort  is,  I  shall  not  want  them  long. 
The  Archon's  cry  creaks,  creaks,  '  Curtail  expense  ! ' 
The  war  wants  money,  year  the  twenty-sixth  ! 
Cut  down  our  Choros  number,  clip  costume, 
Save  birds'  wings,  beetles'  armour,  spend  the  cash 
In  three-crest  scull-caps,  three  days'  salt-fish-slice, 
Three-banked-ships  for  these  sham-ambassadors, 
And  what  not :  any  cost  but  Comedy's  ! 
'  No  Choros  ' — soon  will  follow;  what  care  I  ? 
Archinos  and  Agurrhios,  scrape  your  flint. 
Flay  your  dead  dog,  and  curry  favor  so  ! 
Choros  in  rags,  with  loss  of  leather  next. 
We  lose  the  boys'  vote,  lose  the  song  and  dance, 


Lose  my  Elaphion  !    Still,  the  actor  stays. 

Save  but  my  acting,  and  the  baldhead  bard 

Kudathenaian  and  Pandionid, 

Son  of  Philippos,  Aristophanes 

Surmounts  his  rivals  now  as  heretofore, 

Though  stinted  to  mere  sober  prosy  verse — 

'  Manners  and  men,'  so  squeamish  gets  the  world  ! 

No  more  '  Step  forward,  strip  for  anapaests  ! ' 

Xo  calling  naughty  people  by  their  names, 

No  tickling  audience  into  gratitude 

With  chickpease,  barleygroats  and  nuts  and  plums, 

No  setting  Salabaccho  ..." 

As  I  turned — 

"  True,  lady,  I  am  tolerably  drunk  : 
The  proper  inspiration  !  Otherwise, — 
Phrunichos,  Choirilos  ! — had  Aischulos 


So  foiled  you  at  the  goat-song  ?     Drink's  a  god. 
How  else  did  that  old  doating  driveler 
Kratinos  foil  me,  match  my  masterpiece 
The  'Clouds?'  I  swallowed  cloud-distilment— dew 
Undimmed  by  any  grape-blush,  knit  my  brow 
And  gnawed  my  style  and  laughed  my  learnedest ; 
While  he  worked  at  his  '  Willow-wicker-flask,' 
Swigging  at  that  same  flask  by  which  he  swore. 
Tin,  sing  and  empty,  sing  and  fill  again. 
Somehow  result  was — what  it  should  not  be 
Next  time,  I  promised  him  and  kept  my  word  ! 
Hence,  brimful  now  of  Thasian  .  .  .  I'll  be  bound, 
Alendesian,  merely  :  trium])h-night,  you  know, 
The  High  Priest  entertains  the  conqueror. 
And,  since  war  worsens  all  things,  stingily 
The  rascal  starves  whom  he  is  bound  to  stuff, 
Choros  and  actors  and  their  lord  and  king 
The  poet ;  supper,  still  he  needs  must  spread — 


And  this  time  all  was  conscientious  fare  : 

He  knew  his  man,  his  match,  his  master — made 

Amends,  spared  neither  fish,  flesh,  fowl  nor  wine  : 

So  merriment  increased,  I  promise  you, 

Till — something  happened." 

Here  he  strangely  paused 

"  After  that,— w^ell,  it  either  was  the  cup 
To  the  Good  Genius,  our  concluding  pledge, 
That  wrought  me  mischief,  decently  unmixed, — 
Or,  what  if,  when  that  happened,  need  arose 
Of  new  libation  ?     Did  you  only  know 
What  happened  !     Little  wonder  I  am  drunk." 

Euthukles,  o'er  the  boat-side,  quick,  what  change, 
Watch,  in  the  water  !     But  a  second  since, 
It  laughed  a  ripply  spread  of  sun  and  sea, 


Ray  fused  with  wave,  to  never  disunite. 

Now,  sudden  all  the  surface,  hard  and  black, 

Lies  a  quenched  light,  dead  motion  :  what  the  cause  ? 

Look  up  and  lo,  the  menace  of  a  cloud 

Has  solemnized  the  sparkling,  spoiled  the  sport  ! 

Just  so,  some  overshadow,  some  new  care 

Stopped  all  the  mirth  and  mocking  on  his  face 

And  left  there  only  such  a  dark  surmise 

— No  wonder  if  the  revel  disappeared, 

So  did  his  face  shed  silence  every  side  ! 

I  recognized  a  new  man  fronting  me. 

"  So  !  "  he  smiled,  piercing  to  my  thought  at  once, 
"  You  see  myself  ?     Balaustion's  fixed  regard 
Can  strip  the  proper  Aristophanes 
Of  what  our  sophists,  in  their  jargon,  style 
His  accidents  ?     My  soul  sped  forth  but  now 
To  meet  your  hostile  survey, — soul  unseen, 


Yet  veritably  cinct  for  soul-defence 

With  satyr  sportive  quips,  cranks,  boss  and  spike, 

Just  as  my  visible  body  paced  the  street, 

Environed  by  a  boon  companionship 

Your  apparition  also  puts  to  flight. 

Well,  what  care  I  if,  unaccoutred  twice, 

I  front  my  foe — no  comicality 

Round  soul,  and  body-guard  in  banishment  ? 

Thank  your  eyes'  searching,  undisguised  I  stand : 

The  merest  female  child  may  question  me. 

Spare  not,  speak  bold,  Balaustion  ! " 

I  did  speak  : 

"  Bold  speech  be — welcome  to  this  honoured  hearth, 
Good  Genius  !     Glory  of  the  poet,  glow 
O'  the  humorist  who  castigates  his  kind, 
Suave  summer-lightning  lambency  which  plays 


On  stag-horned  tree,  misshapen  crag  askew, 
Then  vanishes  with  unvindictive  smile 
After  a  moment's  laying  black  earth  bare. 
Splendor  of  wit  that  springs  a  thunderball — 
Satire — to  burn  and  purify  the  world, 
True  aim,  fair  purpose  :  just  wit  justly  strikes 
Injustice, — right,  as  rightly  quells  the  Avrong, 
Finds  out  in  knaves',  fools',  cowards'  armoury 
The  tricky  tinseled  place  fire  flashes  through. 
No  damage  else,  sagacious  of  true  ore  ; 
Wit,  learned  in  the  laurel,  leaves  each  %\Teath 
O'er  lyric  shell  or  tragic  barbiton, — ■ 
Though  alien  gauds  be  singed, — undesecratc. 
The  genuine  solace  of  the  sacred  brow. 
Ay,  and  how  pulses  flame  a  patriot-star 
Steadfast  athwart  our  country's  night  of  things, 
To  beacon,  would  she  trust  no  meteor-blaze, 
Athenai  from  the  rock  she  steers  for  straight  ! 


O  light,  light,  light,  I  hail  light  everywhere. 
No  matter  for  the  murk  that  was, — perchance. 
That  will  be, — certes,  never  should  have  been 
Such  orb's  associate  ! 

"  Aristophanes ! 
*  The  merest  female  child  may  question  you  ?  ' 
Once,  in  my  Rhodes,  a  portent  of  the  wave 
Appalled  our  coast  :  for  many  a  darkened  day, 
Intolerable  mystery  and  fear. 

Who  snatched  a  furtive  glance  through  crannied  peak, 
Could  but  report  of  snake-scale,  lizard-limb, — 
So  swam  what,  making  whirlpools  as  it  went. 
Madded  the  brine  with  wrath  or  monstrous  sport. 
'  'Tis  Tuphon,  loose,  unmanacled  from  mount,' 
Declared  the  priests,  '  no  way  appeasable 
Unless  perchance  by  virgin-sacrifice  ! ' 
Thus  grew  the  terror  and  o'erhung  the  doom — 



Until  one  eve  a  certain  female-child 

Strayed  in  safe  ignorance  to  seacoast  edge, 

And  there  sate  down  and  sang  to  please  herself. 

When  all  at  once,  large-looming  from  his  wave, 

Out   leaned,    chin    hand-propped,    pensive    on    the 

A  sea-worn  face,  sad  as  mortality. 
Divine  with  yearning  after  fellowship. 
He  rose  but  breast-high.     So  much  god  she  saw  ; 
So  much  she  sees  now,  and  does  reverence  ! " 

Ah,  but  there  followed  tail-splash,  frisk  of  fin  ! 
Let  cloud  pass,  the  sea's  ready  laugh  outbreaks. 
No  very  godlike  trace  retained  the  mouth 
Which  mocked  with — 

"  So,  He  taught  you  tragedy  ! 
I  always  asked  '  Why  may  not  women  act?  ' 


Nay,  wear  the  comic  visor  just  as  well  ; 
Or,  better,  quite  cast  off  the  face-disguise 
And  voice-distortion,  simply  look  and  speak, 
Real  women  playing  women  as  men — men  ! 
I  shall  not  wonder  if  things  come  to  that, 
Some  day  when  I  am  distant  far  enough. 
Do  you  conceive  the  quite  new  Comedy 
When  laws  allow  ?  laws  only  let  girls  dance. 
Pipe,  posture, — above  all,  Elaphionize, 
Provided  they  keep  decent — that  is,  dumb. 
Ay,  and,  conceiving,  I  would  execute. 
Had  I  but  two  lives  :  one  were  ovenvorked  ! 
How  penetrate  encrusted  prejudice, 
Pierce  ignorance  three  generations  thick 
Since  first  Sousarion  crossed  our  boundary  ? 
He  battered  with  a  big  Megaric  stone  ; 
Chionides  felled  oak  and  rough-hewed  thence 
This  club  I  wield  now,  having  spent  my  life 



In  planing  knobs  and  sticking  studs  to  shine  ; 
Somebody  else  must  try  mere  polished  steel ! " 

Emboldened  by  the  sober  mood's  return, 

"  Meanwhile,"  said  I,  "  since  planed  and  studded  club 

Once  more  has  pashed  competitors  to  dust, 

And  poet  proves  triumphant  with  that  play, 

Euthukles  found  last  year  unfortunate, — 

Does  triumph  spring  from  smoothness  still  more  smoothed, 

Fresh  studs  sowai  thick  and  threefold  ?     In  plain  words. 

Have    you    exchanged    brute-blows, — which    teach    the 

Man  may  surpass  him  in  brutality, — 
For  human  fighting,  or  true  god-like  force 
Which  breathes  persuasion  nor  needs  fight  at  all  ? 
Have  you  essayed  attacking  ignorance, 
Convicting  folly,  by  their  opposites. 
Knowledge  and  wisdom  ?  not  by  yours  for  ours. 


Fresh  ignorance  and  folly,  new  for  old, 

Greater  for  less,  your  crime  for  our  mistake  ! 

If  so  success  at  last  have  crowned  desert. 

Bringing  surprise  (dashed  haply  by  concern 

At  late  discovery — such  wild  waste  of  strength 

(And  what  strength  !)  went  so  long  to  keep  in  vogue 

Such  warfare  (and  what  warfare  !)  shamed  away, 

Made  obsolete  for  ever,  as  foe  fell 

By  the  first  arrow  native  to  the  orb, 

First  onslaught  worthy  Aristophanes) — 

Was  this  conviction's  entry  that  same  strange 

'  Something  that  happened '  to  confound  your  feast  ?  " 

"  Ah,  did  he  witness  then  my  play  that  failed. 
First  '  Thesmophoriazousai  ? '     Well  and  good  ! 
But  did  he  also  see, — your  Euthukles, — 
My  '  Grasshoppers '  which  followed  and  failed  too, 
Three  months  since,  at  the  '  Little-in-the-Fields  '  ?  " 


"  To  say  that  he  did  see  that  First — should  say 
He  never  cared  to  see  its  following." 

"There  happens  to  be  reason  why  I  wrote 

First  play  and  second  also.     Ask  the  cause  ! 

Fit  answer,  authorizing  either  act, 

I  warrant  you  receive  ere  talk  be  done. 

But  here  's  the  point :  as  Euthukles  made  vow 

Never  again  to  taste  my  quality, 

So  I  was  minded  next  experiment 

Should  tickle  palate — yea,  of  Euthukles  ! 

Not  by  such  utter  change,  such  absolute 

A  topsyturvy  of  stage-habitude 

As  you  and  he  want, — Comedy  built  fresh, 

By  novel  brick  and  mortar,  base  to  roof, — 

No,  for  I  stand  too  near  and  look  too  close  ! 

Pleasure  and  pastime  yours,  spectators  brave, 

Should  I  turn  art's  fixed  fabric  upside  do\\Ti  ! 


Little  you  giiess  how  such  tough  work  tasks  soul ! 
Not  overtasks,  though  :  give  fit  strength  fair  i)lay, 
And  strength  's  a  demiourgos  ! ' 

"  Art  renewed  ? 
Ay,  in  some  closet  where  strength  shuts  out — first 
The  fi-iendly  faces,  sympathetic  cheer  : 
*  More  of  the  old  provision,  none  supplies 
So  bounteously  as  thou, — our  love,  our  pride, 
Our  author  of  the  many  a  perfect  piece  ! 
Stick  to  that  standard,  change  were  decadence  ! ' 
Next,  the  unfriendly  :  '  This  time,  strain  will  tire, 
He's  fresh,  Ameipsias  thy  antagonist  ! ' 
— Or  better,  in  some  Salaminian  cave 
Where  sky  and  sea  and  solitude  make  earth 
And  man  and  noise  one  insignificance, 
Let  strength  propose  itself, — behind  the  world, — 
Sole  prize  worth  winning,  work  that  satisfies 


Strength  it  has  dared  and  done  strength's  uttermost ! 

After  which, — clap-to  closet  and  quit  cave, — 

Strength  may  conclude  in  Archelaos'  court, 

And  yet  esteem  the  silken  company 

So  much  sky-scud,  sea-froth,  earth-thistledown, 

For  aught  their  praise  or  blame  should  joy  or  grieve  : 

May  lead  the  still  life,  ply  the  wordless  task  : 

Then  only,  when  seems  need  to  move  or  speak. 

Moving — for  due  respect,  since  statesmen  pass, 

(Strength,  in  the  closet,  watched  how  spiders  spin  !) 

Speaking — when  fashion  shows  intelligence, 

(Strength,  in  the  cave,  had  whistled  to  the  gulls !) 

Despise  the  world  and  reverence  yourself, — 

Why,  you  may  unmake  things  and  remake  things. 

And  throw  behind  you,  unconcerned  enough, 

What's   made   or   marred :    '  you    teach   men,   are    not 

taught ! ' 
So  marches  off  the  stage  Euripides  ! 


"  No  such  thin  fiire  feeds  flesh  and  blood  Ukc  mine, 

No  such  faint  fume  the  Aristophanic  soul, 

No  such  seclusion,  closet,  cave  or  court, 

Suits  either  like  our  lostephanos 

Worth  making  happy  what  coarse  way  she  will — 

The  happy-maker,  when  the  cries  increase 

About  the  favourite  !  '  Aristophanes  ! 

More  grist  to  mill,  here's  Kleophon  to  grind  ! 

He's  for  refusing  peace,  though  Sparte  cede 

Even  Dekeleia  !     Here's  Kleonumos 

Declaring — if  he  threw  away  his  shield, 

He'll  thrash  you  till  you  lay  your  lyre  aside  ! 

Orestes  bids  mind  where  you  walk  of  nights 

He  wants  your  cloak  as  you  his  cudgeling. 

Here's,  finally,  Melanthios  fat  with  fish, 

The  gormandizer-spendthrift-dramatist ! 

So,  bustle  !     Pounce  on  opportunity  ! 

Let  fun  a-screaming  in  I'arabasis, 


Find  food  for  folk  agape  at  either  end, 

Mad  for  amusement !     Times  grow  better  too, 

And  should  they  worsen,  why,  who  laughs,  forgets. 

In  no  case,  venture  boy-experiments  ! 

Old  wane  's  the  wine  :  new  poetry  drinks  raw  : 

Two  plays  a  season  is  your  pledge,  beside ; 

So,  give  us  '  Wasps  '  again,  grown  hornets  now  !  " 

Then  he  changed. 

"  Do  you  so  detect  in  me — 
Brow-bald,  chin-bearded,  me,  curved  cheek,  carved  lip, 
Or  where  soul  sits  and  reigns  in  either  eye — 
What  suits  the — stigma,  I  say, — style  say  you, 
Of  '  Wine-lees-poet  ?  '     Bravest  of  buffoons, 
Less  blunt  than  Telekleides,  less  obscene 
Than  Murtilos,  Hermippos  :  quite  a  match 
In  elegance  for  Eupolis  himself. 


Yet  pungent  as  Kratinos  at  his  best  ? 
Graced  with  traditional  immunity 
Ever  since,  much  about  my  grandsire's  time, 
Some  funny  village-man  in  Megara, 
Lout-lord  and  clown-king,  used  a  i)rivilege. 
As  due  religious  drinking-bouts  came  round, 
To  daub  his  phiz, — no,  that  was  afterward, — 
He  merely  mounted  cart  with  mates  of  choice 
And  travers'd  country,  taking  house  by  house, 
At  night, — because  of  danger  in  the  freak, — 
Then  hollaed  '  Skin-flint  starves  his  labourers  ! 
Clench-fist  stows  figs  away,  cheats  government  ! 
Such  an  one  likes  to  kiss  his  neighbour's  wife. 
And  beat  his  own  ;  while  such  another  .  .  Boh  ! ' 
Soon  came  the  broad  day,  circumstantial  tale, 
Dancing  and  verse,  and  there's  our  Comedy, 
There's  MuUos,  there's  Euetes,  there's  the  stock 
I  shall  be  proud  to  graft  my  powers  upon  ! 


Protected  ?     Punished  quite  as  certainly 

When  Archons  pleased  to  lay  down  each  his  law, — 

Your  Morucheides-Surakosios  sort, — 

Each  season,  '  No  more  naming  citizens, 

Only  abuse  the  vice,  the  vicious  spare  ! 

Observe,  henceforth  no  Areopagite 

Demean  his  rank  by  writing  Comedy  ! ' 

(They  one  and  all  could  write  the  '  Clouds  '  of  course) 

'  Needs  must  we  nick  expenditure,  allow 

Comedy  half  a  choros,  supper — none. 

Times  being  hard,  while  applicants  increase 

For,  what  costs  cash,  the  Tragic  Trilogy.' 

Lofty  Tragedians  !     How  they  lounge  aloof 

Each  with  his  Triad,  three  plays  to  my  one, 

Not  counting  the  contemptuous  fourth,  the  frank 

Concession  to  mere  mortal  levity, 

Satyric  pittance  tossed  our  beggar-world  ! 

Your  proud  Euripides  from  first  to  last 


Doled  out  some  five  such,  never  deigned  us  more  ! 

And  these — what  curds  and  whey  for  marrowy  wine  ! 

That  same  Alkestis  you  so  rave  about 

Passed  muster  with  him  for  a  Sat)T-play, 

The  prig ! — why  trifle  time  with  toys  and  skits 

When  he  could  stuff  four  ragbags  sausage-wise 

With  sophistry,  with  bookish  odds  and  ends, 

Sokrates,  meteors,  moonshine,  '  Life's  not  Life,' 

*  The  tongue  swore,  but  unsworn  the  mind  remains,' 

And  fifty  such  concoctions,  crab-tree-fruit 

Digested  while,  head  low  and  heels  in  heaven, 

He  lay,  let  Comics  laugh — for  privilege  ! 

Looked  puzzled  on,  or  pityingly  off, 

But  never  dreamed  of  paying  gibe  by  jeer, 

Buffet  by  blow  :  i)lenty  of  proverb-pokes 

At  vice  and  folly,  wicked  kings,  mad  mobs  ! 

No  sign  of  wincing  at  my  Comic  lash, 

No  protest  against  infamous  abuse, 


Malignant  censure, — nought  to  prove  I  scourged 
With  tougher  thong  than  leek-and-onion-plait ' 
If  ever  he  glanced  gloom,  aggrieved  at  all, 
The  aggriever  must  be — Aischulos  perhaps  : 
Or  Sophokles  he'd  take  exception  to. 
— Do  you  detect  in  me — in  me,  I  ask, 
The  man  like  to  accept  this  measurement 
Of  faculty,  contentedly  sit  classed 
Mere  Comic  Poet — since  I  wrote  '  The  Birds'  ?  " 

I  thought  there  might  lurk  truth  in  jest's  disguise. 

"Thanks! "  he  resumed,  so  quick  to  construe  smile  ! 
"  I  answered — in  my  mind — these  gapers  thus  : 
Since  old  wine's  ripe  and  new  verse  raw,  you  judge — 
What  if  I  vary  vintage-mode  and  mix 
Blossom  with  must,  give  nosegay  to  the  brew. 
Fining,  refining,  gently,  surely,  till 


The  educated  taste  turn  unawares 

From  customary  dregs  to  draught  divine  ? 

Then  answered — with  my  lips  :  More  '  Wasps  '  you  want  ? 

Come  next  year  and  I  give  you  '  Grasshoppers  ' ! 

And  '  Grasshoppers '  I  gave  them, — last  month's  play. 

They  formed  the  Choros.     Alkibiades, 

No  longer  Triphales  but  Trilophos, 

(Whom  I  called  Uarling-of-the-Summertime, 

Born  to  be  nothing  else  but  beautiful 

And  brave,  to  eat,  drink,  love  his  life  away) 

Persuades  the  Tettix  (our  Autochthon-brood, 

That  sip  the  dew  and  sing  on  olive-branch 

Above  the  ant-and-emmet  populace) 

To  summon  all  who  meadow,  hill  and  dale 

Inhabit,  bee,  wasp,  woodlouse,  dragonfly. 

To  band  themselves  against  red  nipper-nose 

Stagbeetle,  huge  Taiigetan  (you  guess — 

Sparte)  Athenai  needs  must  battle  with. 


Because  her  sons  are  grown  effeminate 
To  that  degree — so  morbifies  their  flesh 
The  poison-drama  of  Euripides, 
Morals  and  music — there's  no  antidote 
Occurs  save  warfare  which  inspirits  blood, 
And  brings  us  back  perchance  the  blessed  time 
When  (Choros  takes  up  tale)  our  commonalty 
Firm  in  primaeval  virtue,  antique  faith, 
Ere  earwig-sophist  plagued  or  pismire-sage, 
Cockered  no  noddle  up  with  A,  b,  g, 
Book-learning,  logic-chopping,  and  the  moon, 
But  just  employed  their  brains  on  '■Ruppapai, 
Row,  boys,  munch  barley-bread,  and  take  your  ease- 
Mindful,  however,  of  the  tier  beneath  !' 
Ah,  golden  epoch  !  while  the  nobler  sort 
(Such  needs  must  study,  no  contesting  that !) 
Wore  no  long  curls  but  used  to  crop  their  hair. 
Gathered  the  tunic  well  about  the  ham, 


Remembering  'twas  soft  sand  they  used  for  seat 
At  school-time,  while — mark  this — the  lesson  long, 
No  learner  ever  dared  to  cross  his  legs  ! 
Then,  if  you  bade  him  take  the  myrtle-bough 
And  sing  for  supper — 'twas  some  grave  romaunt 
How  man  of  Mitulen'e,  7i.w7idrous  wise, 
yumpcd  into  hedge,  by  mortals  quickset  called. 
And  there,  anticipating  Oidipous, 
Scratched  cut  his  eyes  and  scratched  them  in  again. 
None  of  your  Phaidras,  Auges,  Kanake's, 
To  mincing  music,  turn,  trill,  tweedle-trash, 
\\'hence  comes  that  Marathon  is  obsolete  ! 
Next,  my  Antistrophe  was — praise  of  Peace  : 
Ah,  could  our  people  know  what  Peace  imj^lies  ! 
Home  to  the  farm  and  furrow  !  Grub  one's  vine, 
Romp  with  one's  Thratta,  pretty  serving-girl, 
When  wifie's  busy  bathing  !  Eat  and  drink, 
And  drink  and  eat,  what  else  is  good  in  life  ? 


Slice  hare,  toss  pancake,  gaily  gurgle  down 
The  Thasian  grape  in  celebration  due 
Of  Bacchos  !     Welcome,  dear  domestic  rite, 
When  wife  and  sons  and  daughters,  Thratta  too, 
Pour  peasoup  as  we  chant  delectably 
///  Bacchos  reels,  his  tunic  at  his  heels  ! 
Enough,  you  comprehend, — I  do  at  least ! 
Then, — be  but  patient, — the  Parabasis  ! 
Pray  !  For  in  that  I  also  pushed  reform. 
None  of  the  self-laudation,  vulgar  brag, 
Vainglorious  rivals  cultivate  so  much  ! 
No  !  If  some  merest  word  in  Art's  defence 
Justice  demanded  of  me, — never  fear  ! 
Claim  was  preferred,  but  dignifiedly. 
A  cricket  asked  a  locust  (winged,  you  know) 
What  he  had  seen  most  rare  in  foreign  parts  ? 
'  I   have   flown    far,'    chirped  he,  '  North,   East,    South 


And  nowhere  heard  of  poet  worth  a  fig 

If  matched  with  Bald-head  here,  Aigina's  boast, 

Wlio  in  this  play  bids  rivalry  despair 

Past,  present  and  to  come,  so  marvelous 

His  Tragic,  Comic,  Lyric  excellence  ! 

Whereof  the  fit  reward  were  (not  to  speak 

Of  dinner  every  day  at  public  cost 

r  the  Prutaneion)  supper  with  yourselves, 

My  Public,  best  dish  oftered  bravest  bard  ! ' 

No  more  !  no  sort  of  sin  against  good  taste  ! 

Then,  satire, — Oh,  a  jilain  necessity  ! 

But  I  won't  tell  you  :  for— could  I  dispense 

AVith  one  more  gird  at  old  Ariphrades  ? 

How  scorpion-like  he  feeds  on  human  flesh — 

Ever  finds  out  some  novel  infamy 

Unutterable,  inconceivable, 

AMiich  all  the  greater  need  was  to  describe 

Minutely,  each  tail-twist  at  ink-shed  time  .  .  . 


Now,  what's  your  gesture  caused  by  ?     What  you  loathe, 

Don't  I  loathe  doubly,  else  why  take  such  pains 

To  tell  it  you  ?     But  keep  your  prejudice  ! 

My  audience  justified  you  !     Housebreakers  ! 

This  pattern-purity  was  played  and  failed 

Last  Rural  Dionusia — failed  !  for  why  ? 

Ameipsias  followed  with  the  genuine  stuff. 

He  had  been  mindful  to  engage  the  Four — • 

Karkinos  and  his  dwarf-crab-family — 

Father  and  sons,  they  whirled  like  spinning-tops, 

Choros  gigantically  poked  his  fun. 

The  boys'  frank  laugh  relaxed  the  seniors'  brow, 

The  skies  re-echoed  victory's  acclaim, 

Ameipsias  gained  his  due,  I  got  my  dose 

Of  wisdom  for  the  future.     Purity? 

No  more  of  that  next  month,  Athenai  mine  ! 

Contrive  new  cut  of  robe  who  will, — I  patch 

The  old  exomis,  add  no  purple  sleeve  ! 


The  Thesmophoriazousai,  smartened  up 

AVith  certain  plaits,  shall  please,  I  promise  you  ! 

"  Yes,  I  tooknip  the  play  that  failed  last  year, 

And  re-arranged  things;  threw  adroitly  in, — 

Xo  Parachoregema, — men  to  match 

My  women  there  already ;  and  when  these 

(I  had  a  hit  at  Aristullos  here, 

His  plan  how  womankind  should  rule  the  roast) 

Drove  men  to  plough — '  A-field,  ye  cribbed  of  cape  ! ' 

Men  showed  themselves  exempt  from  service  straight 

Stupendously,  till  all  the  boys  cried  '  Brave  ! ' 

Then  for  the  elders,  I  bethought  me  too, 

I  mproved  upon  Mnesilochos'  release 

From  the  old  bowman,  board  and  binding-strap  : 

I  made  his  son-in-law  Euripides 

Engage  to  put  both  shrewish  wives  away, 

'  Gravity,'  one,  the  other,  '  Sophist-lore,' 


And  mate  with  the  Bald  Bard's  hetairai  twain  — 

'  Goodhumour  '  and  '  Indulgence ' :  on  they  trii)ped, 

Murrhine,  Akalanthis, — '  beautiful 

Their  whole  belongings' — crowd  joined  choros  there 

And  while  the  Toxotes  wound  up  his  part 

By  shower  of  nuts  and  sweetmeats  on  the  mob, 

The  woman-choros  celebrated  New 

Kalligeneia,  the  frank  last-day  rite. 

Brief,  I  was  chaired  and  caressed  and  crowned 

And  the  whole  theatre  broke  out  a-roar, 

Echoed  my  admonition — choros-cap — 

Rivals  of  inijie.,  your  Jiands  to  your  faces  ! 

Summon  no  more  the  Muses.,  the  Graces, 

Since  here  by  my  side  they  Jiai'e  chosen  their  places  ! 

And  so  we  all  flocked  merrily  to  feast, — 

I,  my  choragos,  choros,  actors,  mutes 

And  flutes  aforesaid,  friends  in  crowd,  no  fear, 

At  the  Priest's  supper  ;  and  hilarity 


Grew  none  the  less  that,  early  in  the  piece, 

Ran  a  report,  from  row  to  row  close-packed. 

Of  messenger's  arrival  at  the  Port 

With  weighty  tidings,  '  Of  Lusandros'  flight,' 

Opined  one ;  '  That  Euboia  penitent 

Sends  the  Confederation  fifty  ships,' 

Preferred  another  ;  while  '  The  Great  King's  Eye 

Has  brought  a  present  for  Elaphion  here, 

That  rarest  peacock  Kompolakuthes  ! ' 

Such  was  the  supposition  of  a  third. 

'  No  matter  what  the  news,'  friend  Strattis  laughed, 

'  It  won't  be  worse  for  waiting  :  while  each  click 

Of  the  klepsudra  sets  a-  shaking  grave 

Resentment  in  our  shark's-head,  boiled  and  spoiled 

By  this  time  :  dished  in  Sphettian  vinegar, 

Silphion  and  honey,  served  with  cocks'-brain-sauce  ! 

So,  swift  to  supper.  Poet !     No  mistake, 

This  play  ;  nor,  like  the  unflavoured  '  Grasshoppers,' 


Salt  without  thyme  ! '     Right  merrily  we  supped, 
Till — something  happened. 

"  Out  it  shall,  at  last  ! 

"  Mirth  drew  to  ending,  for  the  cup  was  crowned 

To  the  Triumphant  !     '  Kleonclapper  erst, 

Now,  Plier  of  a  scourge  Euripides 

Fairly  turns  tail  from,  flying  Attike 

For  Makedonia's  rocks  and  frosts  and  bears. 

Where,  furry  grown,  he  growls  to  match  the  squeak 

Of  girl-voiced,  crocus-vested  Agathon  ! 

Ha  ha,  he  he  ! '     When  suddenly  a  knock — 

Sharp,  solitary,  cold,  authoritative. 

'  Babaiax  !    Sokrates  a-passing  by, 

A-peering  in,  for  AristuUos'  sake. 

To  put  a  question  touching  Comic  Law  ? ' 


"  No  !     Enters  an  old  pale-swathed  majesty, 
Makes  slow  mute  passage  through  two  ranks  as  mute, 
(Strattis  stood  up  witli  all  the  rest,  the  sneak  !) 
Grey  brow  still  bent  on  ground,  upraised  at  length 
When,  our  Priest  reached,  full-front  the  vision  paused. 

'  Priest  ! ' — the  deep  tone  succeeded  the  fixed  gaze — 

'  Thou  carcst  that  thy  god  have  spectacle 

Decent  and  seemly  ;  wherefore.  I  announce 

That,  since  Euripides  is  dead  to-day, 

,My  Choros,  at  the  Greater  Feast,  next  month, 

Shall,  clothed  in  black,  appear  ungarlanded  ! ' 

"  Then  the  grey  brow  sank  low,  and  So^jhokles 
Re-swathed  him,  sweeping  doorward  :  mutely  passed 
'Twixt  rows  as  mute,  to  mingle  possibly 
With  certain  gods  who  convoy  age  to  i)ort ; 
And  ni<fht  resumed  him. 


"  When  our  stupor  broke, 
Chirpings  took  courage,  and  grew  audible. 

'  Dead — so  one  speaks  now  of  Euripides  ! ' 

' Ungarlanded  his  Chores,  did  he  say? 

I  guess  the  reason  :  in  extreme  old  age 

No  doubt  such  have  the  gods  for  visitants. 

Why  did  he  dedicate  to  Herakles 

An  altar  else,  but  that  the  god,  turned  Judge, 

Told    him   in   dream   who   took   the    crown    of 

He  who  restored  Akropolis  the  theft. 
Himself  may  feel  perhaps  a  timely  twinge 
At  thought  of  certain  other  crowns  he  filched 
From — who  now  visits  Herakles  the  Judge. 
Instance  '  Medeia '  !  that  play  yielded  palm 
To  Sophokles ;  and  he  again — to  whom  ? 
Euphorion  !     Why  ?    Ask  Herakles  the  Judge  ! ' 


Ungarlanded,  just  means— economy  ! 

Suppress  robes,  chaplets,  ever}'thing  suppress 

Except  the  poet's  present !     An  old  tale 

Put  capitally  by  Trugaios — eh  ? 

"  News  from  the  world  of  transfomiation  strange  ! 

How  Sophokles  is  grown  Simonides, 

And, — aged,  rotten,— all  the  same,  for  greed 

Would  venture  on  a  hurdle  out  to  sea  !  " 

So  jokes  Philonides.     Kallistratos 

Retorts  '  Mistake  !     Instead  of  stinginess — 

The  fact  is,  in  extreme  decrepitude, 

He  has  discarded  poet  and  turned  priest, 

Priest  of  Half-Hero  Alkon  :  visited 

In  his  own  house  too  by  Asklepios'  self, 

So  he  avers.     Meanwhile,  his  own  estate 

Lies  fallow  ;  lophon  's  tlic  manager,— 

Nay,  touches  up  a  play,  brings  out  the  same. 

Asserts  tme  sonship.     See  to  what  )OU  sink 


After  your  dozen-dozen  prodigies  ! 
Looking  so  old — Euripides  seems  young, 
Born  ten  years  later.' 

'  Just  his  tricky  style  ! 
Since,  stealing  first  away,  he  wins  first  word 
Out  of  goodnatured  rival  Sophokles, 
Procures  himself  no  bad  panegyric. 
Had  fate  willed  otherwise,  himself  were  taxed 
To  pay  survivor's-tribute, — harder  squeezed 
From  anybody  beaten  first  to  last, 
Than  one  who,  steadily  a  conqueror. 
Finds  that  his  magnanimity  is  tasked 
To  merely  make  pretence  and — beat  itself ! ' 

"  So  chirped  the  feasters  though  suppressedly. 

"  But  I — what  else  do  you  suppose  ? — had  pierced 


Quite    through    friends'    outside-straining,    foes'    mock- 
And  reached  conviction  hearted  under  all. 
Death's  rapid  line  had  closed  a  life's  account. 
And  cut  off,  left  unalterably  clear 
The  summed-up  value  of  Euripides. 

"  Well,  it  might  be  the  Thasian  !     Certainly 

11iere  sang  suggestive  music  in  my  ears ; 

And,  through — what  sophists  style — the  wall  of  sense 

My  eyes   pierced :    death  seemed   life  and   life   seemed 

Envisaged  that  way,  now,  which  I,  before, 
Conceived  was  just  a  moon-struck  mood.     Quite  plain 
There  re- insisted, — ay,  each  prim  stiff  phrase 
Of  each  old  l>lay,  my  still-new  laughing-stock, 
Had  meaning,  well  worth  poet's  pains  to  state, 
Should  life  prove  half  true  life's  term — death,  the  rest. 


As  for  the  other  cjuestion,  late  so  large 

Now  all  at  once  so  little, — he  or  I, 

Which  better  comprehended  playAvright  craft, — 

There,  too,  old  admonition  took  fresh  point. 

As  clear  recurred  our  last  word-interchange 

Two  years  since,  when  I  tried  with  '  Ploutos.'     '  Vain  I ' 

Saluted  me  the  cold  grave-bearded  age — 

'  Vain,  this  late  trial,  Aristophanes  ! 

None  baulks  the  genius  with  impunity  ! 

You  know  what  kind's  the  nobler,  what  makes  grave 

Or  what  makes  grin  ;  there's  yet  a  nobler  still, 

Possibly, — what  makes  wise,  not  grave, — and  glad, 

Not  grinning  :  whereby  laughter  joins  with  tears, 

Tragic  and  Comic  Poet  prove  one  power. 

And  Aristoj^hanes  becomes  our  Fourth — 

Nay,  greatest !     Never  needs  the  Art  stand  still. 

But  those  Art  leans  on  lag,  and  none  like  you, 

Her  strongest  of  supports,  whose  step  aside 


Undoes  the  march  :  defection  checks  advance 

Too  late  adventured  !     See  the  "  Ploutos  "  here  ! 

This  step  decides  your  foot  from  old  to  new — 

Proves  you  relinquish  song  and  dance  and  jest, 

Discard  the  beast,  and,  rising  from  all-fours. 

Fain  would  paint,  manlike,  actual  human  life. 

Make  veritable  men  think,  say  and  do. 

Here's  the  conception  :  which  to  execute, 

^Vhere's    force  ?      Spent  !      Ere   the    race    began,   was 

O'  the  runner  squandered  on  each  friendly  fool — 
Wit-fireworks  fizzed  off  while  day  craved  no  fiame  : 
How  should  the  night  receive  her  due  of  fire 
Flared  out  in  Wasps  and  Horses,  Clouds  and  Birds, 
Prodigiously  a-crackle  ?     Rest  content ! 
The  new  adventure  for  the  novel  man 
Born  to  that  next  success  myself  foresee 
In  riiiht  of  where  I  reach  before  I  rest. 


At  end  of  a  long  course,  straight  all  the  way, 

Well  may  there  tremble  somewhat  into  ken 

The  untrod  path,  clouds  veiled  from  earlier  gaze  ! 

None  may  live  two  lives  :  I  have  lived  mine  through, 

Die  where  I  first  stand  still.     You  retrograde. 

I  leave  my  life's  work_    /  compete  with  you, 

My  last  with  your  last,  my  '  Antiope  ' — 

'  Phoinissai  '—with  this  '  Ploutos  ? '     No,  I  think  ! 

Ever  shall  '  great  and  awful  Victory 

Accompany  my  life  ' — in  Maketis 

If  not  Athenai.     Take  my  farewell,  friend  ! 

Friend, —  for  from  no  consummate  excellence 

T>ike  yours,  whatever  fault  may  countervail, 

Do  I  profess  estrangement :  murk  the  marsh. 

Yet  where  a  solitary  marble  block 

Blanches  the  gloom,  there  let  the  eagle  perch  ! 

You  show — what  splinters  of  Pentelikos, 

Islanded  by  what  ordure  !     Eagles  fly, 


Rest  on  the  right  place,  thence  depart  as  free  ; 
But  ware  man's  footstep,  would  it  traverse  mire 
Untainted  !     Mire  is  safe  for  worms  that  crawl." 

"  Balaustion  !     Here  are  very'  many  words, 
All  to  portray  one  moment's  rush  of  thought, — 
And  much  they  do  it  !     Still,  you  understand. 
The  Archon,  the  Feast-master,  read  their  sura 
And  substance,  judged  the  banquet-glow  extinct, 
So  rose,  discreetly  if  abruptly,  crowned 
The  parting  cup, — '  To  the  Good  Genius,  then  ! ' 

"  Up  starts  young  Strattis  for  a  final  flash  : 

'  Ay,  the  Good  Genius  !     To  the  Comic  Muse, 

She  who  evolves  superiority, 

Triumph  and  joy  from  sorrow,  un success 

And  all  that's  incomplete  in  human  life  ; 

Who  proves  such  actual  failure  transient  wrong, 



Since  out  of  body  uncouth,  halt  and  maimed— 
Since  out  of  soul  grotesque,  corrupt  or  blank — 
Fancy,  uplifted  by  the  Muse,  can  flit 
To  soul  and  body,  re-instate  them  Man  : 
Beside  which  perfect  man,  how  clear  we  see 
Divergency  from  type  was  earth's  effect ! 
Escaping  whence  by  laughter, — Fancy's  feat, — 
We  right  man's  wrong,  establish  true  for  false, — 
Above  misshapen  body,  uncouth  soul, 
Reach  the  fine  form,  the  clear  intelligence — 
Above  unseemhness,  reach  decent  law, — 
By  laughter :  attestation  of  the  Muse 
That  low-and-ugsome  is  not  signed  and  sealed 
Incontrovertibly  man's  portion  here, 
Or,  if  here,— why,  still  high-and-fair  exists 
In  that  etherial  realm  where  laughs  our  soul 
Lift  by  the  Muse,     Hail  then  her  ministrant  ! 
Hail  who  accepted  no  deformity 


In  man  as  normal  and  remediless, 
But  rather  pushed  it  to  such  gross  extreme 
That  outraged  we  protest  by  eye's  recoil 
The  opposite  proves  somewhere  rule  and  law  I 
Hail  who  implied,  by  limning  Lamachos, 
'  Plenty  and  pastime  wait  on  peace,  not  war  ! ' 
Philokleon — '  better  bear  a  wrong  than  plead, 
Play  the  litigious  fool  to  stuff  the  mouth 
Of  dikast  with  the  due  three-obol  fee  ! ' 
The  Paphlagonian — '  stick  to  the  old  sway 
Of  few  and  wise,  not  rabble-government ! ' 
Trugaios,  Pisthetairos,  Strepsiades, — 
Why  multiply  examples?     Hail,  in  fine, 
The  hero  of  each  painted  monster — so 
Suggesting  the  unpictured  perfect  shape  ! 
Pour  out !     A  laugh  to  Aristophanes  ! ' 

"  Stay,  my  fine  Strattis  " — and  I  stopped  applause — 

G  2 


"  To  the  Good  Genius— but  the  Tragic  Muse  ! 
She  who  instructs  her  poet  '  Bid  man's  soul 
Play  man's  part  merely  nor  attempt  the  gods' 
Ill-guessed  of !  Task  humanity  to  height, 
Put  passion  to  prime  use,  urge  will,  unshamed 
When  will's  last  effort  breaks  in  impotence  ! 
No  power  forego,  elude  :  no  weakness, — plied 
Fairly  by  power  and  will, — renounce,  deny  ! 
Acknowledge,  in  such  miscalled  weakness,  strength 
Latent :  and  substitute  thus  things  for  words  ! 
Make  man  run  life's  race  fairly, — legs  and  feet. 
Craving  no  false  wings  to  o'erfly  its  length  ! 
Trust  on,  trust  ever,  trust  to  end — in  truth  ! 
By  truth  of  extreme  passion,  utmost  will, 
Shame  back  all  false  display  of  either  force — 
Barrier  about  such  strenuous  heat  and  glow, 
That  cowardice  shall  shirk  contending,— cant, 
Pretension,  shrivel  at  truth's  first  approach  ! 


Pour  to  the  Tragic  Muse's  ministrant 

Who,  as  he  pictured  pure  Hippolutos, 

AboHshed  our  earth's  blot  Ariphrades ; 

Who,  as  he  drew  Bellerophon  the  bold, 

Proclaimed  Kleonumos  incredible; 

Who,  as  his  Theseus  towered  up  man  once  more, 

Made  Alkibiades  shrink  boy  again  ! 

A  tear — no  woman's  tribute,  weak  exchange 

For  action,  water  spent  and  heart's-blood  saved — 
No  man's  regret  for  greatness  gone,  ungraced 
Perchance  by  even  that  poor  meed,  man's  praise — 
But  some  god's  superabundance  of  desire. 
Yearning  of  will  to  'scape  necessity, — 
Love's  overbrimming  for  self  sacrifice, 
\Vhence  good  might  be,  which  never  else  may  be, 
By  power  displayed,  forbidden  this  strait  sphere, — 
Effort  expressible  one  only  way — 
Such  tear  from  me  fall  to  Euripides  ! ' 


"  The  Thasian  !— All,  the  Thasian,  I  account ! 

"  Whereupon  outburst  the  whole  company 
Into  applause  and — laughter,  would  you  think  ? 

'  The  unrivalled  one  !  How,  never  at  a  loss, 

He  turns  the  Tragic  on  its  Comic  side 

Else  imperceptible  !  Here's  death  itself — 

Death  of  a  rival,  of  an  enemy, — 

Scarce  seen  as  Comic  till  the  master-touch 

Made  it  acknowledge  Aristophanes  ! 

Lo,  that  Euripidean  laurel-tree 

Struck  to  the  heart  by  lightning  !  Sokrates 

Would  question  us,  with  buzz  of  '  how  '  and  '  why,' 

Wherefore  the  berry's  virtue,  the  bloom's  vice, 

Till  we  all  wished  him  quiet  with  his  friend  ; 

Agathon  would  compose  an  elegy, 

Lyric  bewailment  fit  to  move  a  stone, 


And,  stones  responsive,  we  might  wince,  'tis  like  ; 
Nay,  with  most  cause  of  all  to  weep  the  least, 
Sophokles  ordains  mourning  for  his  sake 
While  we  confess  to  a  remorseful  twinge  : — 
Suddenly,  who  but  Aristophanes, 
Prompt  to  the  rescue,  puts  forth  solemn  hand, 
Singles  us  out  the  tragic  tree's  best  branch. 
Persuades  it  groundward  and,  at  tip,  appends, 
For  votive-visor.  Faun's  goat-grinning  face  ! 
Back  it  flies,  evermore  with  jest  a-top. 
And  we  recover  the  true  mood,  and  laugh  !  ' 

"  I  felt  as  when  some  Nikias, — ninny-like 
Troubled  by  sunspot-portent,  moon-eclipse, — 
At  fault  a  little,  sees  no  choice  but  sound 
Retreat  from  foeman  ;  and  his  troops  mistake 
The  signal  and  hail  onset  in  the  blast, 
And  at  their  joyous  answer,  alale, 


Back  the  old  courage  brings  the  scattered  wits  ; 
He  wonders  what  his  doubt  meant,  quick  confirms 
The  happy  error,  blows  the  charge  amain. 
So  I  repaired  things. 

"  Both  be  praised  "  thanked  I. 
"  You  who  have  laughed  with  Aristophanes, 
You  who  wept  rather  -with  the  Lord  of  Tears  I 
Priest,  do  thou,  president  alike  o'er  each, 
Tragic  and  Comic  function  of  the  god. 
Help  with  libation  to  the  blended  twain  ! 
Either  of  which  who  serving,  only  serves — 
Proclaims  himself  disqualified  to  pour 
To  that  Good  Genius — complex  Poetry, 
Uniting  each  god-grace,  including  both  : 
Which,  operant  for  body  as  for  soul, 
Masters  alike  the  laughter  and  the  tears, 
Supreme  in  lowliest  earth,  sublimest  sky. 
Who  dares  disjoin  these, — whether  he  ignores 


Body  or  soul,  whichever  half  destroys, — 

Maims  the  else  perfect  manhood,  perpetrates 

Again  the  inexpiable  crime  we  curse — 

Hacks  at  the  Hennai,  halves  each  guardian  shape 

Combining,  nowise  vainly,  prominence 

Of  august  head  and  enthroned  intellect. 

With  homelier  symbol  of  asserted  sense, — 

Nature's  prime  impulse,  earthly  appetite. 

For,  when  our  folly  ventures  on  the  freak, 

Would  fain  abolish  joy  and  fmitfulness, 

Mutilate  nature — what  avails  the  Head 

Left  solitarily  i)redominant, — 

Unbodied  soul, — not  Hermes,  both  in  one  ? 

I,  no  more  than  our  City,  acquiesce 

In  such  a  desecration,  but  defend 

Man's  double  nature — ay,  wert  thou  its  foe  ! 

Could  I  once  more,  thou  cold  Euripides, 

Encounter  thee,  in  nought  would  I  abate 


My  warfare,  nor  subdue  my  worst  attack 

On  thee  whose  hfe-work  preached  '  Raise  soul,  sink  sense  ! 

Evirate  Hermes  ! ' — would  avenge  the  god, 

And  justify  myself     Once  face  to  face, 

Thou,  the  argute  and  tricksy,  shouldst  not  wrap, 

As  thine  old  fashion  was,  in  silent  scorn 

Those  breast-beats  quickened  at  the  sting  of  truth  ; 

Nor  turn  from  me,  as,  if  the  tale  be  true. 

From  Lais  when  she  met  thee  in  thy  walks, 

Demanded  why  she  had  no  rights  as  thou. 

Not  so  shouldst  thou  betake  thee,  be  assured, 

To  book  and  pencil,  deign  me  no  reply  ! 

I  would  extract  an  answer  from  those  lips 

So  closed  and  cold,  were  mine  the  garden-chance  ! 

Gone  from  the  world  !     Does  none  remain  to  take 

Thy  part  and  ply  me  with  thy  sophist-skill? 

No  sun  makes  proof  of  his  whole  potency 

For  gold  and  purple  in  that  orb  we  view  ; 


The  apparent  orb  does  little  but  leave  blind 

The  audacious,  and  confused  the  worshiping. 

But,  close  on  orb's  departure,  must  succeed 

The  serviceable  cloud, — must  intervene. 

Induce  expenditure  of  rose  and  blue. 

Reveal  what  lay  in  him,  was  lost  to  us. 

So,  friends,  what  hinders,  as  we  homeward  go, 

If,  privileged  by  triumph  gained  to-day, 

We  clasp  that  cloud  our  sun  left  saturate, 

The  Rhodian  rosy  with  Euripides  ? 

Not  of  my  audience  on  my  triumph-day. 

She  and  her  husband  !     After  the  night's  news 

Neither  will  sleep,  but  watch  ;  I  know  the  mood. 

Accompany  !  my  crown  declares  my  right  !  " 

"  And  here  you  stand  with  those  warm  golden  eyes  ! 

"  In  honest  language,  I  am  scarce  too  sure 
Whether  I  really  felt,  indeed  expressed 


Then,  in  that  presence,  things  I  now  repeat : 
Nor  half,  nor  any  one  word, — will  that  do  ? 
May  be,  such  eyes  must  strike  conviction,  turn 
One's  nature  bottom  upwards,  show  the  base — 
The  live  rock  latent  under  wave  and  foam : 
Superimposure  these  !     Yet  solid  stuff 
Will  ever  and  anon,  obeying  star, 
(And  what  star  reaches  rock-nerve  like  an  eye  ?) 
Swim  up  to  surface,  spout  or  mud  or  flame, 
And  find  no  more  to  do  than  sink  as  fast. 

"  Anyhow,  I  have  followed  happily 

The  impulse,  pledged  my  Genius  with  effect. 

Since,  come  to  see  you,  I  am  shown — myself ! " 

I  answered : 

"  One  of  us  declared  for  both 
'  Welcome  the  glory  of  Aristophanes.' 


The  other  adds  '  and,—  if  that  glory  last, 
Nor  marsh-born  vapour  creep  to  veil  the  same, — 
Once  entered,  share  in  our  solemnity  ! 
Commemorate,  as  we,  Euripides  !  " 

"  What  ?  "  he  looked  round,  "  I  darken  the  bright  house  ? 
Profane  the  temple  of  your  deity  ? 
That's  true  !  Else  wherefore  does  he  stand  portrayed  ? 
What  Rhodian  paint  and  pencil  saved  so  much, 
Beard,  freckled  face,  brow— all  but  breath,  I  hope  ! 
Come,  that's  unfair  :  myself  am  somebody, 
Yet  my  pictorial  fame 's  just  potter's  work, — 
I  barely  figure  on  men's  drinking-mugs  ! 

I  and  the  Flat-nose,  Sophroniskos'  son, 

Oft  make  a  pair.     But  what's  this  lies  below  ? 

His  table-book  and  graver,  playwright's  tool ! 

And  lo,  the  sweet  psalterion,  strung  and  screwed, 

Whereon  he  tried  those  le-e-e-e-cs 


And  ke-e-e-e-es  and  turns  and  trills, 

Lovely  lark's  tirra-lirra,  lad's  delight ! 

Aischulos'  bronze-throat  eagle-bark  at  blood 

Has  somehow  spoiled  my  taste  for  twitterings  ! 

With  .  .  what,  and  did  he  leave  you  '  Herakles  ? ' 

The  '  Frenzied  Hero,'  one  unfractured  sheet, 

No   pine-wood  tablets   smeared   with    treacherous 

wax — 
Papuros  perfect  as  e'er  tempted  pen  ! 
This  sacred  twist  of  bay-leaves  dead  and  sere 
Must  be  that  crown  the  fine  work  failed  to  catch, — 
No  wonder  !  This  might  crown  '  Antiope.' 
'  Herakles '  triumph  ?     In  your  heart  perhaps  ! 
But  elsewhere  ?     Come  now,  I'll  explain  the  case, 
Show  you  the'  main  mistake.     Give  me  the  sheet  !  " 

I  interrupted  : 

"  Aristophanes  ! 


The  stranger-woman  sues  in  her  abode — 

'  Be  honored  as  our  guest ! '    But,  call  it — shrine, 

Then  '  No  dishonor  to  the  Daimon  ! '  bids 

The  priestess  '  or  expect  dishonor's  due  ! ' 

You  enter  fresh  from  your  worst  infamy, 

Last  instance  of  long  outrage  ;  yet  I  pause, 

Withhold  the  word  a-tremble  on  my  lip, 

Incline  me,  rather,  yearn  to  reverence, — 

So  you  but  suffer  that  I  see  the  blaze 

And  not  the  bolt, — the  splendid  fancy-fling, 

Not  the  cold  iron  malice,  the  launched  lie 

Whence  heavenly  fire  has  withered ;  impotent, 

Yet  execrable,  leave  it  'neath  the  look 

Of  yon  impassive  presence  !  What  he  scorned, 

His  life  long,  need  1  touch,  offending  foot, 

To  prove  that  malice  missed  its  mark,  that  lie 

Cumbers  the  ground,  returns  to  whence  it  came  ? 

I  marvel,  I  deplore, — the  rest  be  mute  ! 


But,  throw  off  hate's  celestiahty, — 

Show  me,  apart  from  song-flash  and  wit-flame, 

A  mere  man's  hand  ignobly  clenched  against 

Yon  supreme  calmness, — and  I  interpose, 

Such  as  you  see  me  !     Silk  breaks  lightning's  blow  ! ' 

He  seemed  to  scarce  so  much  as  notice  me, 
Aught  T  had  spoken,  save  the  final  phrase  : 
Arrested  there. 

"  Euripides  grown  calm  ! 
Calmness  supreme  means  dead  and  therefore  safe," 
He  muttered  ;  then  more  audibly  began — 

"  Dead  !  Such  must  die  !  Could  people  comprehend 

There's  the  unfairness  of  it !     So  obtuse 

Are  all :  from  Solon  downward  with  his  saw 

'  Let  none  revile  the  dead, — no,  though  the  son, 


Nay,  far  descendant,  should  revile  thyself ! ' — 

To  him  who  made  Elektra,  in  the  act 

Of  Avreaking  vengeance  on  her  worst  of  foes, 

Scruple  to  blame,  since  speech  that  blames  insults 

Too  much  the  very  villain  life-released. 

Now,  /  say,  only  after  death,  begins 

That  formidable  claim, — immunity 

Of  foultiness  from  fault's  due  punishment  ! 

The  living,  who  deflime  me, — why,  they  live  : 

Fools, — I  best  prove  them  foolish  by  their  life, 

Will  they  but  work  on,  lay  their  work  by  mine, 

And  wait  a  litUe,  one  Olympiad,  say  ! 

Then — -where's  the  vital  force,  mine  froze  beside  ? 

The  sturdy  fibre,  shamed  my  brittle  stuff? 

The  school-correctness,  sure  of  wise  award 

When  my  vagaries  cease  to  tickle  taste  ? 

Where's  censure  that  must  sink  me,  judgment  big 

Awaiting  just  the  word  posterity 



Pants   to   pronounce?     Time's   wave  breaks,    buries- 

Fools,  when  myself  confronts  you  four  years  hence  ? 
But  die,  ere  next  Lenaia, — safely  so 
You  'scape  me,  slink  with  all  your  ignorance, 
Stupidity  and  malice,  to  that  hole 
O'er  which  survivors  croak  '  Respect  the  dead  ! ' 
Ay,  for  I  needs  must !     But  allow  me  clutch 
Only  a  carrion-handful,  lend  it  sense, 
(Mine,  not  its  own,  or  could  it  answer  me  ?) 
And  question  '  You,  I  pluck  from  hiding-place. 
Whose  cant  was,  certain  years  ago,  my  '  Clouds  ' 
Might  last  until  the  swallows  came  with  Spring — 
Whose  chatter,  '  Birds '  are  unintelligible. 
Mere  psychologic  puzzling  :  poetry  ? 
List,  the  true  lay  to  rock  a  cradle  with  ! 
O  man  of  Mitidene,  wondrous  wise  / ' 
— Would  not  I  rub  each  face  in  its  own  filth 


To  tune  of  '  Now  that  years  have  come  and  gone, 
How  does  the  fact  stand  ?     What's  demonstrable 
By  time,  that  tries  things? — your  own  test,  not  mine 
Who  think  men  are,  were,  ever  will  be  fools, 
Though  somehow  fools  confute  fools, — as  these,  you  ! 
Don't  mumble  to  the  sheepish  twos  and  threes 
You  cornered  and  called  '  audience  ! '  face  .this  me 
Who  know,  and  can,  and — helped  by  fifty  years — 
Do  pulverize  you  pygmies,  then  as  now  ! ' 

Ay,  now  as  then,  I  pulverize  the  brood, 
Balaustion  !     Mindful,  from  the  first,  where  foe 
Would  hide  head  safe  when  hand  had  flung  its  stone. 
I  did  not  turn  cheek  and  take  pleasantry, 
But  flogged  while  skin  could  purple  and  flesh  start, 
To  teach  fools  whom  they  tried  conclusions  with. 
First  face  a-splutter  at  me  got  such  splotch 
Of  prompt  slab  mud  as,  filling  mouth  to  maw, 

H  2 


Made  its  concern  thenceforward  not  so  mucli 

To  criticize  me  as  go  cleanse  itself. 

Tlie  only  drawback  to  which  huge  delight, — 

(He  saw  it,  how  he  saw  it,  that  calm  cold 

Sagacity  you  call  Euripides  !) 

— Why,  'tis  that,  make  a  muckheap  of  a  man, 

There,  pillared  by  your  prowess,  he  remains, 

Immortally  immerded.     Not  so  he  ! 

Men  pelted  him  but  got  no  pellet  back. 

He  reasoned,  I'll  engage, — '  Acquaint  the  world 

Certain  minuteness  butted  at  my  knee  ? 

Dogface  Eruxis,  the  small  satirist, — 

What  better  would  the  manikin  desire 

Than  to  strut  forth  on  tiptoe,  notable 

As  who  so  far  up  fouled  me  in  the  flank?  ' 

So  dealt  he  with  the  dwarfs  :  we  giants,  too, 

Wliy  must  we  emulate  their  pin-point  play  ? 

Render  imperishable — impotence, 


I'or  mud  throw  mountains?  Zeus,  by  mud  unreached, — 
AVcll,  'twas  no  dwarf  he  heaved  Ohmipos  at ! 

My  heart  burned  up  within  me  to  my  tongue. 

••  And  why  must  men  remember,  ages  hence, 
Who  it  was  rolled  down  rocks,  but  refuse  too — 
Strattis  might  steal  from !  mixture-monument, 
Recording  what  ?     '  I,  Aristophanes, 
Who  boast  me  much  inventive  in  my  art. 
Against  Euripides  thus  volleyed  muck 
because,  in  art,  he  too  extended  bounds. 
I  — patriot,  loving  peace  and  hating  war, — 
Choosing  the  rule  of  few,  but  wise  and  good, 
Rather  than  mob-dictature,  fools  and  knaves 
1  lowever  multiplied  their  mastery, — 
1  )espising  most  of  all  the  demagogue, 
(Noisome  air-bubble,  buoyed  up,  borne  along 


By  kindred  breath  of  knave  and  fool  below, 
Whose  hearts  swell  proudly  as  each  puffing  face 
Grows  big,  reflected  in  that  glassy  ball, 
Vacuity,  just  bellied  out  to  break 
And  righteously  bespatter  friends  the  first) 
Loathing, — beyond  a  less  puissant  speech 
Than  my  own  god-grand  language  to  declare, — 
The  fawning,  cozenage  and  calumny 
Wherewith  such  favorite  feeds  the  populace 
That  fan  and  set  him  flying  for  reward : — 
I  who,  detecting  what  vice  underlies 
Thought's  superstructure, — fancy's  sludge  and  slime 
'Twixt   fact's   sound   floor  and  thought's   mere  surface- 
Of  hopes  and  fears  which  root  no  deeplier  down 
Than  where  all  such  mere  fungi  breed  and  bloat — 
Namely,  man's  misconception  of  the  God  : — 
I,  loving,  hating,  wishful  from  my  soul 


That  truth  should  triumph,  falsehood  have  defeat, 
— ^^'hy,  all  my  soul's  supremacy  of  power 
Did  I  pour  out  in  volley  just  on  him 
^\'ho,  his  whole  life  long,  championed  every  cause 
I  called  my  heart's  cause,  loving  as  I  loved, 
Hating  my  hates,  one  false  one  true  for  both, — 
Championed  my  cause — not  flagellating  foe 
With  simple  rose  and  lily,  gibe  and  jeer, 
Sly  wink  of  boon-companion  o'er  his  bowze 
\Vho,  while  he  blames  the  liquor,  smacks  the  lip, 
Blames,  doubtless,  but  leers  condonation  too, — 
No,  the  balled  fist  broke  brow  like  thunderbolt. 
Battered  till  brain  flew  !     Seeing  Avhich  descent, 
None  questioned  that  was  first  acquaintanceship, 
The  avenger's  with  the  vice  he  crashed  through  bone. 
Still,  he  displeased  me  ;  and  I  turned  from  foe 
To  fellow-fighter,  flung  much  stone,  more  mud, — 
But  missed  him,  since  he  lives  aloof,  I  see.' 


Pah  !  stop  more  shame  deep-cutting  glory  through, 

Nor  add,  this  poet,  learned, — found  no  taunt 

Tell  like  *  That  other  poet  studies  books  ! ' 

Wise, — cried  '  At  each  attempt  to  move  our  hearts, 

He  uses  the  mere  phrase  of  daily  life  ! ' 

Witty, — '  His  mother  was  a  herb-woman  ! ' 

Veracious,  honest,  loyal,  fair-and-good,— 

'  It  was  Kephisophon  who  helped  him  write  ! ' 

"  Whence, — O  the  tragic  end  of  comedy  I — 

Balaustion  pities  Aristophanes. 

For,  who  believed  him  ?     Those  who  laughed  so  loud  ? 

They  heard  him  call  the  sun  Sicilian  cheese  ! 

Had  he  called  true  cheese — curd,  would  muscle  move  ? 

What  made  them  laugh  but  the  enormous  lie  ? 

'  Kephisophon  wrote  '  Herakles  ?  '  ha,  ha, 

What  can  have  stirred  the  wine-dregs,  soured  the  soul. 

And  set  a-lying  Aristophanes  ? 


Some  accident  at  which  he  took  offence  ! 
The  Tragic  Master  in  a  moody  muse 
Passed  him  unhailing,  and  it  hurts — it  hurts ! 
Beside,  there's  licence  for  the  Wine-lees-song  ! ' " 

Blood  burnt  the  cheek-bone,  each  black  eye  flashed  fierce. 

"  But  this  exceeds  our  licence  !     Stay  awhile — 
That's  the  solution  !  both  are  foreigners, 
'i'he  fresh-come  Rhodian  lady,  and  her  spouse 
Tlie  man  of  Phokis  :  newly  resident. 
Nowise  instmcted — that  explains  it  all  ! 
No  born  and  bred  Athenian  but  would  smile, 
Unless  frown  seemed  more  fit  for  ignorance. 
These  strangers  have  a  privilege  ! 

"  You  blame  " 
(Presently  he  resumed  with  milder  mien) 


"  Both  theory  and  practice — Comedy  : 
Blame  her  from  altitudes  the  Tragic  friend 
Rose  to,  and  upraised  friends  along  with  him, 
No  matter  how.     Once  there,  all's  cold  and  fine, 
Passionless,  rational  ;  our  world  beneath 
Shows  (should  you  condescend  to  grace  so  much 
As  glance  at  poor  Athenai)  grimly  gross — 
A  population  which,  mere  flesh  and  blood, 
Eats,  drinks  and  kisses,  falls  to  fisticuffs. 
Then  hugs  as  hugely :  speaks  too  as  it  acts, 
Prodigiously  talks  nonsense, — townsmen  needs 
Must  parley  in  their  town's  vernacular. 
Such  world  has,  of  two  courses,  one  to  choose  : 
Unworld  itself, — or  else  go  blackening  off 
To  its  crow-kindred,  leave  philosophy 
Her  heights  serene,  fit  perch  for  owls  like  you. 
Now,  since  the  world  demurs  to  either  course, 
Permit  me, — in  default  of  boy  or  girl. 


So  tlicy  be  reared  Athenian,  good  and  true, — 

To  praise  what  you  most  blame !     Hear  Art's  defence  ! 

I'll  prove  our  institution,  Comedy, 

Coeval  with  the  birth  of  freedom,  matched 

So  nice  with  our  Republic,  that  its  growth 

Measures  each  greatness,  just  as  its  decline 

Would  signalize  the  downfall  of  the  pair. 

Our  Art  began  when  Bacchos  .  .  .  never  mind  ! 

Vou  and  }our  master  don't  acknowledge  gods  : 

'  They  are  not,  no,  they  are  not ! '  well, — began 

When  the  rude  instinct  of  our  race  outspoke, 

Found, — on  recurrence  of  festivity 

Occasioned  by  black  mother-earth's  good  will 

To  children,  as  they  took  her  vintage-gifts, — 

Found — not  the  least  of  many  benefits — 

That  wine  unlocked  the  stififest  lip,  and  loosed 

The  tongue  late  dry  and  reticent  of  joke, 

Through  custom's  gripe  which  gladness  thrusts  aside. 


So,  emulating  liberalities, 

Heaven  joined  with  earth  for  that  god's  day  at  least, 

Renewed  man's  privilege,  grown  obsolete, 

Of  telling  truth  nor  dreading  punishment. 

Whereon  the  joyous  band  disguised  their  forms 

With  skins,  beast-fashion,  daubed  each  phiz  with  dregs, 

Then  hollaed  '  Neighbour,  you  are  fool,  you — knave. 

You — hard  to  serve,  you — stingy  to  reward  ! ' 

The  guiltless  crowed,  the  guilty  sunk  their  crest, 

And  good  folks  gained  thereby,  'twas  evident. 

Whence,  by  degrees,  a  birth  of  happier  thought. 

The  notion  came — not  simply  this  to  say, 

Eut  this  to  do — prove,  put  in  evidence. 

And  act  the  fool,  the  knave,  the  harsh,  the  hunks, 

"Who  ^//i'/ prate,  cheat,  shake  fist,  draw  pursestring  tight. 

As  crowd  might  see,  which  only  heard  before. 

So  played  the  Poet,  with  his  man  of  parts ; 


And  all  the  others,  found  unqualified 
To  mount  cart  and  l)e  persons,  made  the  mob, 
Joined  choros,  fortified  their  fellows'  fun. 
Anticipated  the  community. 
Gave  judgment  which  the  public  ratified. 
Suiting  rough  weapon  doubtless  to  plain  truth, 
They  flung,  for  word-artillery,  why— filth  ; 
Still,  folks  who  wiped  the  unsavory  salute 
From  visage,  would  prefer  the  m.ess  to  wit — 
Steel,  poked  through  midriff  with  a  civil  speech, 
As  now  the  way  is  :   then,  the  kindlier  mode 
Was — drub  not  stab,  ribroast  not  scarify  ! 
So  did  Sousarion  introduce,  and  so, 
Did  I,  acceding,  find  the  Comic  Art : 
Club, — if  I  call  it, — notice  what's  implied  ! 
An  engine  proper  for  rough  chastisement, 
No  downright  slaying  :  with  impunity — 
Provided  crabtree,  steeped  in  oily  joke, 


Deal  only  such  a  bruise  as  laughter  cures. 
I  kept  the  gained  advantage  :  stickled  still 
For  club-law — stout  fun  and  allowanced  thumps  : 
Knocked  in  each  knob  a  crevice  to  hold  joke 
As  fig-leaf  holds  the  fat-fry. 

"Next,  whom  thrash  ? 
Only  the  coarse  fool  and  the  clownish  knave  ? 
Higher,  more  artificial,  composite 
Offence  should  prove  my  prowess,  eye  and  arm  ! 
Not  who  robs  henroost,  tells  of  untaxed  figs, 
Spends  all  his  substance  on  stewed  ellops-fish, 
Or  gives  a  pheasant  to  his  neighbour's  wife  : 
No  !  strike  malpractice  that  affects  the  State, 
The  common  weal — intriguer  or  poltroon, 
Venality,  corruption,  what  care  I 
If  shrewd  or  witless  merely? — so  the  thing 
Lay  sap  to  aught  that  made  Athenai  bright 


And  happy,  change  her  customs,  lead  astray 

Youth  or  age,  play  the  demagogue  at  Pnux, 

The  sophist  in  Palaistra,  or — what's  worst, 

As  widest  mischief, — from  the  Theatre 

Preach  innovation,  bring  contempt  on  oaths, 

Adorn  licentiousness,  despise  the  Cult. 

Are  such  to  be  my  game?     ^^'hy,  then  there  wants 

Quite  other  cunning  than  a  cudgel-sweep  ! 

Grasp  the  old  stout  stock,  but  new  tip  with  steel 

Each  boss,  if  I  would  bray — no  callous  hide 

Simply,  but  Lamachos  in  coat  of  proof. 

Or  Kleon  cased  about  with  impudence  ! 

Shaft  pushed  no  worse  while  point  pierced  sparkling  so 

That  none  smiled  '  Sportive,  what  seems  savagest, 

— Innocuous  anger,  spiteless  rustic  mirth  ! ' 

Yet  spiteless  in  a  sort,  considered  well. 

Since  I  pursued  my  warfare  till  each  wound 

Went  through  the  mere  man,  reached  the  principle 


^^^orth  purging  from  Athenai.     Lamachos  ? 
No,  I  attacked  war's  representative  ; 
Kleon  ?     No,  flattery  of  the  populace  ; 
Sokrates  ?     No,  but  that  pernicious  seed 
Of  sophists  whereby  hopeful  youth  is  taught 
To  jabber  argument,  chop  logic,  pore 
On  sun  and  moon,  and  worship  Whirligig. 
Oh,  your  tragedian,  with  the  lofty  grace. 
Aims  at  no  other  and  effects  as  much  ? 
Candidly  :  what's  a  poUshed  period  worth, 
Filed  curt  sententiousness  of  loaded  line, 
When  he  who  deals  out  doctrine,  primly  steps 
From  just  that  selfsame  moon  he  maunders  of. 
And,  blood-thinned  by  his  pallid  nutriment, 
Proposes  to  rich  earth-blood — purity  ? 
In  me,  't  was  equal-balanced  flesh  rebuked 
Excess  alike  in  stuff-guts  Glauketes 
Or  starveling  Chairephon  ;  I  challenged  both, — 


Strong  understander  of  our  common  life, 
Staple  sustainment  of  humanity . 
Whereas  when  your  tragedian  cries  up  Peace  — 
He's  silent  as  to  cheesecake  Peace  may  chew ; 
Seeing  through  rabble-rule,  he  shuts  his  eye 
To  what  were  better  done  than  crowding  Pnux— 
Dancing  '  Threttanelo,  the  Kuklops  drunk  ! ' 

"  My  power  has  hardly  need  to  vaunt  itself  I 
Opposers  peep  and  mutter,  or  speak  plain  : 
'  No  naming  names  in  Comedy  ! '  votes  one, 
'  Nor  vilifying  live  folk  ! '  legislates 
Another,  '  urge  amendment  on  the  dead  ! ' 
'  Don't  throw  away  hard  cash,'  supplies  a  third, 
'  But  crib  from  actor's  dresses,  choros-treats  ! ' 
Then  Kleon  did  his  best  to  bully  me  : 
Called  me  before  the  Law  Court  :  '  Such  a  play 
Satirized  citizens  with  strangers  there, 


Such  other,' — why,  its  fault  was  in  myself ! 

I  was,  this  time,  the  stranger,  privileged 

To  act  no  play  at  all, — Egyptian,  I — 

Rhodian  or  Kameirensian,  Aiginete, 

Lindian,  or  any  foreigner  he  liked  — 

Because  I  can't  write  Attic,  probably  ! 

Go  ask  my  rivals, — how  they  roughed  my  fleece, 

And  how,  shorn  pink  themselves,  the  huddled  sheep 

Shiver  at  distance  from  the  clapping  shears  ! 

Why  must  they  needs  provoke  me  ? 

"  All  the  same, 
No  matter  for  its  triumph,  I  foretell 
Subsidence  of  the  day-star  :  quench  his  beams? 
No  Aias  e'er  was  equal  to  the  feat 
By  throw  of  shield,  tough-hided  seven  times  seven, 
'Twixt  sky  and  earth  !  'tis  dullards  soft  and  sure 
Who  breathe  against  his  brightest,  here  a  sigh 


And  there  a  '  So  let  be,  we  pardon  you  ! ' 
Till  the  minute  mist  hangs  entire,  has  tamed 
Noonblaze  to  '  twilight  mild  and  equable,' 
Vote  the  old  women  spinning  out  of  doors. 
Give  me  the  earth-spasm,  when  the  lion  ramped 
And  the  bull  gendered  in  the  brave  gold  flare  ! 
O  you  shall  have  amusement, — better  still, 
Instruction  !  no  more  horse-play,  naming  names, 
Taxing  the  fanc}-  when  plain  sense  will  serve  ! 
Thearion,  now,  my  friend  who  bakes  you  bread, 
What's  worthier  limning  than  his  household  life  ? 
His  whims  and  ways,  his  quarrels  with  the  spouse, 
And  how  the  son,  instead  of  learning  knead 
Kilikian  loaves,  brings  heart-break  on  his  sire 
By  buying  horseflesh  branded  Scxn,  each  flank, 
From  shrewd  Menippos  who  imports  the  ware  : 
While  pretty  daughter  Kepphe  too  much  haunts 
The  shop  of  Sporgilos  the  barber  1  brave  ! 


Out  with  Thearion's  meal-tub  politics 

In  lieu  of  Pisthetairos,  Strepsiades  ! 

That's  your  exchange  ?  O  Muse  of  Megara  ! 

Advise  the  fools  '  Feed  babe  on  weasel-lap 

For  wild-boar'' s  marrow,  Cheiron's  hero-pap. 

And  rear,  for  man — Ariphrades,  mayhap  /' 

Yes,  my  Balaustion,  yes,  my  Euthukles, 

That 's  your  exchange, — who,  foreigners  in  fact 

And  fancy,  would  impose  your  squeamishness 

On  sturdy  health,  and  substitute  such  brat 

For  the  right  offspring  of  us  Rocky  Ones, 

Because  babe  kicks  the  cradle, — crows,  not  mewls  ! 

"  Which  brings  me  to  the  prime  fault,  poison-speck 

Whence  all  the  plague  springs — that  first  feud  of  all 

'Twixt  me  and  you  and  your  Euripides. 

'  Unworld  the  world  '  frowns  he,  my  opposite. 

I  cry,  '  Life  ! '     '  Death,'  he  groans,  '  our  better  Life  ! ' 


Despise  what  is — the  good  and  graspable, 

Prefer  the  out  of  sight  and  in  at  mind, 

To  village-joy,  the  well-side  violet-patch, 

The  jolly  club-feast  when  our  field's  in  soak, 

Roast  thnishes,  haresoup,  peasoup,  deep  washed  down 

\Vith  Peparethian  ;  the  prompt  paying  off 

That  black-eyed  brown-skinned  country-flavoured  wench 

We  caught  among  our  brushwood  foraging  : 

On  these  look  fig-juice,  curdle  up  Hfe's  cream, 

And  fall  to  magnifying  misery  ! 

Or,  if  you  condescend  to  happiness, 

Why,  talk,  talk,  talk  about  the  empty  name 

While  thing's  self  lies  neglected  'neath  your  nose  ! 

/  need  particular  discourtesy 

And  private  insult  from  Euripides 

To  render  contest  with  him  credible  ? 

Say,  all  of  me  is  outraged  !  one  stretched  sense, 

I  represent  the  whole  RcpubUc, — gods. 


Heroes,  priests,  legislators,  poets, — prone, 
And  pummelled  into  insignificance, 
If  will  in  him  were  matched  with  power  of  stroke. 
For  see  what  he  has  changed  or  hoped  to  change  ! 
How  few  years  since,  when  he  began  the  fight. 
Did  there  beat  life  indeed  Athenai  through  ! 
Plenty  and  peace,  then  !     Hellas  thundersmote 
The  Persian.     He  himself  had  birth,  you  say. 

That  morn  salvation  broke  at  Salamis, 

And  heroes  still  walked  earth.     Themistokles — 

Surely  his  mere  back-stretch  of  hand  could  still 

Find,  not  so  lost  in  dark,  Odusseus? — he 

Holding  as  surely  on  to  Herakles, — 

Who  touched  Zeus,  link  and  link,  the  unruptured  chain  ! 

Were  poets  absent?    Aischulos  might  hail — 

With  Pindaros,  Theognis, — whom  for  sire  } 

Homeros'  self,  departed  yesterday  ! 

While  Hellas,  saved  and  sung  to,  then  and  thus, — 


Ah,  people, — ah,  lost  antique  liberty  ! 

We  lived,  ourselves,  undoubted  lords  of  earth  : 

Wherever  olives  flourish,  corn  yields  crop 

To  constitute  our  title — ours  such  land  ! 

Outside  of  oil  and  breadstuff, — barbarism  ! 

What  need  of  conquest  ?     Let  barbarians  starve  ! 

Devote  our  whole  strength  to  our  sole  defence, 

Content  with  peerless  native  products,  home, 

Beauty  profuse  in  earth's  mere  sights  and  sounds, 

Such  men,  such  women,  and  such  gods  their  guard  ! 

The  gods?   he  worshij)ped  best  who  feared  them  most. 

And  left  their  nature  unenquired  into, 

— Nature  ?  their  very  names  !  pay  reverence, 

Do  sacrifice  for  our  part,  theirs  would  be 

To  j)rove  benignantest  of  playfellows. 

With  kindly  humanism  they  countenanced 

Our  emulation  of  divine  escapes 

Through  sense  and  soul :  soul,  sense  are  made  to  use  ; 


Use  each,  acknowledging  its  god  the  while  ! 

Crush  grape,  dance,  drink,  indulge,  for  Bacchos'  sake  ! 

'Tis  Aphrodite's  feast-day — frisk  and  fling, 

Provided  we  observe  our  oaths,  and  house 

Duly  the  stranger  :   Zeus  takes  umbrage  else  ! 

Ah,  the  great  time — had  I  been  there  to  taste  ! 

Perikles,  right  Olympian,  occupied 

As  yet  with  getting  an  Olumpos  reared 

Marble  and  gold  above  Akropolis, — 

Wisely  so  spends  what  thrifty  fools  amassed 

For  cut-throat  projects.     Who  carves  Promachos? 

Who  writes  the  Oresteia? 

"Ah,  the  time  !' 
For,  all  at  once,  a  cloud  has  blanched  the  blue, 
A  cold  wind  creeps  through  the  close  vineyard-rank, 
The  olive-leaves  curl,  violets  crisp  and  close 
Like  a  nymph's  wrinkling  at  the  bath's  first  splash 


(Your  pardon  !)     There's  a  restlessness,  a  change, 

Deterioration.     Larks  and  nightingales 

Are  silenced,  here  and  there  a  gor-crow  grim 

Flaps  past,  as  scenting  opportunity. 

Where  Kimon  passaged  to  the  Boiile  once, 

A  starveling  crew,  unkempt,  unshorn,  unwashed. 

Occupy  altar-base  and  temple-step, 

Are  minded  to  indoctrinate  our  youth  ! 

How  call  these  carrion  kill-joys  that  intrude  ? 

'  Wise  men,'  their  nomenclature  !  Prodikos — 

Who  scarce  could,  unassisted,  pick  his  steps 

From  way  Theseia  to  the  Tripods'  way, — 

This  empty  noddle  comprehends  the  sun, — 

How  he's  Aigina's  bigness,  wheels  no  whit 

His  way  from  east  to  west,  nor  wants  a  steed  ! 

And  here's  Protagoras  sets  wrongheads  right. 

Explains  what  virtue,  vice,  truth,  falsehood  mean. 

Makes  all  we  seemed  to  know  prove  ignorance 


Yet  knowledge  also,  since,  on  either  side 

Of  any  question,  something's  straight  to  say. 

Nothing  to  'stablish,  all  things  to  disturb  ! 

And  shall  youth  go  and  play  at  kottabos. 

Leaving  unsettled  whether  moon-spots  breed  ? 

Or  dare  keep  Choes  ere  the  problem's  solved — 

Why  should  I  like  my  wife  who  dislikes  me  ? 

'  But  sure  the  gods  permit  this,  censure  that  ?  ' 

So  tell  them  !  straight  the  answer  's  in  your  teeth  : 

'  You  relegate  these  points,  then,  to  the  gods  ? 

What  and  where  are  they  ?  '    '  What  my  sire  supposed, 

And  where  yon  cloud  conceals  them  !'...'  Till  they 

And  scramble  down  to  Leda,  as  a  swan, 
Europa,  as  a  bull !  why  not  as — ass 
To  somebody  ?    Your  sire  was  Zeus  perhaps  ! 
Either — away  with  such  ineptitude  ! 
Or,  wanting  energy  to  break  your  bonds. 


Stick  to  the  good  old  stories,  think  the  rain 

Is— Zeus  distilling  pickle  through  a  sieve  ! 

Think  thunder  's  thrown  to  break  Theoros'  head 

For  breaking  oaths  first  !     So  you  let  ourselves 

Instruct  your  progeny  what  fools  are  you 

For  fearing  Zeus,  who  is  the  atmosphere, 

Brother  Poseidon,  otherwise  called — sea. 

And  son  Hephaistos — fire  and  nothing  else  ! 

Over  which  nothings  there's  a  something  still, 

'  Necessity,'  that  rules  the  uni\erse 

And  cares  as  niuch  about  your  Choes-feast 

Performed  or  intermitted,  as  you  care 

Whether  gnats  sound  their  trump  from  head  or  tail  ! ' 

When,  stupefied  at  such  philosophy, 

We  cry  '  Arrest  the  madmen,  governor  ! 

Pound  hemlock  and  pour  buU's-blood,  Perikles  ! ' 

Would  you  believe  ?     The  Olympian  bends  his  brow, 

Scarce  pauses  from  his  building  !     '  Say  they  thus  ? 


Then,  they  say  wisely.     Anaxagoras, 

I  had  not  known  how  simple  proves  eclipse 

But  for  thy  teaching  !     Go,  men,  learn  like  me  ! ' 

"  '  Well,  Zeus  nods  :  man  must  reconcile  himself, 

So,  let  the  Charon's-company  harangue, 

And  Anaxagoras  be — as  we  wish  ! 

A  comfort  is  in  nature  :  while  grass  grows 

And  water  nms,  and  sesame  pricks  tongue, 

And  honey  from  Brilesian  hollow  melts 

On  mouth,  and  Bacchis'  lip  beats  both,  my  boy, 

You  will  not  be  untaught  life's  use,  young  man  ? ' 

Pho  !    My  young  man  just  proves  that  panniered  ass 

Said  to  have  borne  Youth  strapped  on  his  stout  back, 

Who  bargained  with  a  serpent,  let  him  swap 

The  jjriceless  boon  for — water  to  quench  thirst  ! 

AVhat's  youth  to  my  young  man  ?     Tn  love  with  age, 

He  Spartanizes,  argues,  fasts  and  prates, 


Denies  the  plainest  rules  of  life,  long  since 
Proved  sound  ;  sets  all  authority  aside, 
Must  simply  recommence  things,  learn  ere  act, 
And  think  out  thoroughly  how  youth  should  pass — 
Just  as  if  youth  stops  passing,  all  the  same  ! 

"  One  last  resource  is  left  us — poetry  ! 

'  Vindicate  nature,  prove  Plataian  help, 

Turn  out,  a  thousand  strong,  all  right  and  tight, 

To  save  Sense,  poet  !     Bang  the  sophist-brood 

Would  cheat  man  out  of  wholesome  sustenance 

By  swearing  wine  is  water,  honey — gall, 

Saperdion — the  Empousa  !     Panic-smit, 

Our  juveniles  abstain  from  Sense  and  starve. 

Be  yours  to  disenchant  them  !     Change  things  back  ! 

Or  better,  strain  a  point  the  other  way 

And  handsomely  exaggerate  wronged  truth  ! 

Lend  wine  a  glory  never  gained  from  grape, 


Help  honey  with  a  snatch  of  him  we  style 
The  Muses'  Bee,  bay-bloom-fed  Sophokles, 
And  give  Saperdion  a  Kimberic  robe  ! ' 

"  '  I,  his  successor,'  gruff  the  answer  grunts, 

'  Inchne  to  poetize  philosophy, 

Extend  it  rather  than  restrain  ;  as  thus — 

Are  heroes  men  ?     No  more,  and  scarce  as  much, 

Shall  mine  be  represented.     Are  men  poor  ? 

Behold  them  ragged  !  sick  ?  lame,  halt  and  blind  ! 

Do  they  use  speech  ?     Ay,  street-terms,  market-phrase  ! 

Having  thus  drawn  sky  earthwards,  what  comes  next 

But  dare  the  opposite,  lift  earth  to  sky? 

Mere  puppets  once,  I  now  make  womankind, 

For  thinking,  saying,  doing,  match  the  male. 

Lift  earth?     I  drop  to,  dally  with,  earth's  dung  ! 

— Recognize  in  the  very  slave — man's  mate, 

Declare  him  brave  and  honest,  kind  and  true, 


And  reasonable  as  his  lord,  in  brief. 

"  I  paint  men  as  they  are  " — so  nins  my  boast — 

"  Not  as  they  should  be  :  "  paint— what's  part  of  "  man," 

— Women  and  slaves, — not  as,  to  please  your  pride. 

They  should  be,  but  your  equals,  as  they  are. 

O  and  the  Gods  !     Instead  of  abject  mien, 

Submissive  whisper,  while  my  Choros  cants 

"  Zeus, — with  thy  cubit's  length  of  attributes, — 

May  I,  the  ephemeral,  ne'er  scrutinize 

Who  made  the  heaven  and  earth  and  all  things  there  I " 

Myself  shall  say  '  .  .     Ay,  '  Herakles  '  may  help  ! 

Give  me, — I  want  the  very  words, — attend  1  " 

He   read.      Then  —  "  Murder's   out,  —  *  There    are    no 

Man  has  no  master,  owtis,  by  consequence, 
No  right,  no  wrong,  except  to  please  or  plague 
His  nature  :  what  man  likes  be  man's  sole  law  ! 


Still,  since  he  likes  Saperdion,  honey,  figs, 
Man  may  reach  freedom  by  your  roundabout  ! 
'  Never  believe  yourselves  the  freer  thence  ! 
There  are  no  gods,  but  there's  '  Necessity,' — 
Duty  enjoined  you,  fact  in  figment's  place, 
Throned  on  no  mountain,  native  to  the  mind  ! 
Therefore  deny  yourselves  Saperdion,  figs, 
And  honey,  for  the  sake  of — what  I  dream, 
A-sitting  with  my  legs  up  ! ' 

"  Infamy ! 
The  poet  casts  in  calm  his  lot  with  these 
Assailants  of  Apollon  !     Sworn  to  serve 
Each  Grace,  the  Furies  call  him  minister — 
He,  who  was  born  for  just  that  rosy  world 
Renounced  so  madly,  where  what's  false  is  fact, 
Where  he  makes  beauty  out  of  ugliness, 
Where  he  lives,  life  itself  disguised  for  him 


As  immortality — so  works  the  spell, 
Enthusiastic  mood  which  marks  a  man 
Muse-mad,  dream-drunken,  wTapt  around  by  verse. 
Encircled  still  with  j)oet-atmosphere, 
As  lark  emballed  by  its  o\vn  crystal  song. 
Or  rose  enmisted  by  that  scent  it  makes  ! 
No,  this  were  unreality  !  the  real 
He  wants,  not  falsehood, — truth  alone  he  seeks, 
Truth,  for  all  beauty  !     Beauty,  in  all  truth — 
That's  certain  somehow  !     Must  the  eagle  lilt 
Lark-like,  needs  fir-tree  blossom  rose-like  ?     No  ! 
Strength  and  utility  charm  more  than  grace, 
And  what's  most  ugly  proves  most  beautiful. 
So  much  assistance  from  Euripides  ! 

"  Whereupon  I  betake  me,  since  needs  must, 

To  a  concluding  '  Go  and  feed  the  crows  ! 

Do  !     Spoil  your  art  as  you  renounce  your  life, 



Poetize  your  so  precious  system,  do, 
Degrade  the  hero,  nulHfy  the  god, 
Exhibit  women,  slaves  and  men  as  peers, — 
Your  castigation  follows  prompt  enough  ! 
When  all's  concocted  upstairs,  heels  o'er-head, 
Down  must  submissive  drop  the  masterpiece 
For  pubUc  praise  or  blame  :  so,  praise  away. 
Friend  Socrates,  wife's-friend  Kephisophon  ! 
Boast  innovations,  cramp  phrase,  uncouth  song, 
Hard  matter  and  harsh  manner,  gods,  men,  slaves 
And  women  jumbled  to  a  laughing-stock 
Which  Hellas  shall  hold  sides  at  lest  she  split ! 
Hellas,  on  these,  shall  have  her  word  to  say  I ' 

"  She  has  it  and  she  says  it — there's  the  curse  ! — 
She  finds  he  makes  the  shag-rag  hero-race. 
The  noble  slaves,  wise  women,  move  as  much 
Pity  and  terror  as  true  tragic  types  : 


Applauds  inventiveness — the  plot  so  new, 

The  turn  and  trick  subsidiary  so  strange  ! 

She  reHshes  that  homely  phrase  of  life, 

That  common  town-talk,  more  than  trumpet-blasts  ; 

Accords  him  right  to  chop  and  change  a  myth  ; 

'  What  better  right  had  he,  who  told  the  tale 

In  the  first  instance,  to  embellish  fact? 

This  bard  may  disembellish  yet  improve  ! 

Both  find  a  block:  this  man  carves  back  to  bull 

A\Tiat  first  his  predecessor  cut  to  sphynx  : 

Such  genuine  actual  roarer,  nature's  brute. 

Intelligible  to  our  time,  was  sure 

The  old-world  artist's  purpose,  had  he  worked 

To  mind  ;  this  artist  means  and  makes  the  thing  ! 

Then,  past  dispute,  the  verse  slips  oily-bathed 

In  unctuous  music  :  say,  effeminate — 

You  also  say,  like  Kuthereia's  self, 

A  lullinfT  effluence  which  enswathes  some  isle 


Where  hides  a  nymph,  not  seen  but  felt  the  more.' 
That's  Hellas'  verdict  ! 

"  Does  Euripides 
Even  so  far  absolved,  remain  content  ? 
Nowise  !     His  task  is  to  refine,  refine, 
Divide,  distinguish,  subtilize  away 
Whatever  seemed  a  solid  planting-place 
For  foot-fall, — not  in  that  phantasmal  sphere 
Proper  to  poet,  but  on  vulgar  earth 
Where  people  used  to  tread  with  confidence. 
There's  left  no  longer  one  plain  positive 
Enunciation  incontestable 
Of  what's  good,  right  and  decent  here  on  earth. 
Nobody  now  can  say  '  this  plot  is  mine, 
Though  but  a  plethron  square, — my  duty  I ' — 'Yours? 
Mine,  or  at  least  not  yours,'  snaps  somebody  ! 
And,  whether  the  dispute  be  parent-right 


Or  children's  service,  husband's  i)rivilege 

Or  wife's  submission,  there's  a  snarUng  straight, 

Smart  passage  of  opposing  '  yea  '  and  '  nay,' 

'  Should,'  '  should  not,'  till,  howe'er  the  contest  end, 

Spectators  go  off  sighing  '  Clever  thrust  ! 

\\'hy  was  I  so  much  hurried  to  pay  debt, 

Attend  my  mother,  sacrifice  an  ox, 

And  set  my  name  down  '  for  a  trireme,  good  ? ' 

Something  I  might  have  urged  on  t'other  side  ! 

No  doubt,  Chresphontes  or  Bellerophon 

We  don't  meet  ever)-  day  ;  but  Stab-and-stitch 

The  tailor — ere  I  turn  the  drachmas  o'er 

I  owe  him  for  a  chiton,  as  he  thinks, 

I'll  pose  the  blockhead  with  an  argument  ! ' 

So  has  he  triumphed,  your  Euripides  ! 
Oh,  I  concede,  he  rarely  gained  a  prize  : 
That's  quite  another  matter  !  cause  for  that  ! 


Still,  when  'tAvas  got  by  Ions,  lophons, 

Off  he  would  pace  confoundedly  superb, 

Supreme,  no  smile  at  movement  on  his  mouth 

Till  Sokrates  winked,  whispered  :  out  it  broke  ! 

And  Aristullos  jotted  down  the  jest. 

While  lophons  or  Ions,  bay  on  brow. 

Looked  queerly,  and  the  foreigners — like  you — 

Asked  o'er  the  border  with  a  puzzled  smile 

— '  And  so,  you  value  Ions,  lophons, 

Euphorions  !     How  about  Euripides  ? ' 

(Eh,  brave  bard's-champion  ?     Does  the  anger  boil  ? 

Keep  within  bounds  a  moment, — eye  and  lip 

Shall  loose  their  doom  on  me,  their  fiery  worst  !) 

\Vhat  strangers  ?    Archelaos  heads  the  file  ! 

He  sympathizes,  he  concerns  himself, 

He  pens  epistle,  each  successless  play  : 

'  Athenai  sinks  effete  ;  there's  younger  blood 

In  Makedonia.     Visit  where  I  rule  ! 


Do  lionor  to  me  and  take  gratitude  ! 

Live  the  guest's  life,  or  work  the  poet's  way, 

Which  also  means  the  statesman's  :  he  who  wrote 

*  Erechtheus  '  may  be  rawly  politic 

At  home  where  Kleophon  is  ripe  ;  but  here 

My  council-board  permits  him  choice  of  seats.' 

'  Now,  this  was  operating, — what  should  prove 
A  poison-tree,  had  flowered  far  on  to  fruit 
For  many  a  year,— when  I  was  moved,  first  man, 
To  dare  the  adventure,  down  with  root  and  branch. 
So,  from  its  sheath  I  drew  my  Comic  steel, 
And  dared  what  I  am  now  to  justify. 
A  serious  question  first,  though  1 

"  Once  again  ! 
Do  you  believe,  when  I  aspired  in  youth, 
I  made  no  estimate  of  power  at  all, 


Nor  paused  long,  nor  considered  much,  what  class 

Of  fighters  I  might  claim  to  join,  beside 

That  class  wherewith  I  cast  in  company  ? 

Say,  you — profuse  of  praise  no  less  than  blame — 

Could  not  1  have  competed — franker  phrase 

Might  trulier  correspond  to  meaning — still. 

Competed  with  your  Tragic  paragon  ? 

Suppose  me  minded  simply  to  make  verse, 

To  fabricate,  parade  resplendent  arms, 

Flourish  and  sparkle  out  a  Trilogy, — 

Where  was  the  hindrance  ?     But  my  soul  bade  '  Fight  ! 

Leave  flourishing  for  mock-foe,  pleasure-time  ; 

Prove  arms  efficient  on  real  heads  and  hearts  ! ' 

How?    With  degeneracy  sapping  fast 

The  Marathonian  muscle,  nerved  of  old 

To  maul  the  Mede,  now  stnmg  at  best  to  help 

— How  did  I  fable  ? — War  and  Hubbub  mash 

To  mincemeat  Fatherland  and  Brotherhood, 


Pound  in  their  mortar  Hellas,  State  by  State, 

Tliat  greed  might  gorge,  the  while  frivolity 

Rubbed  hands  and  smacked  lips  o'er  the  dainty  dish  ! 

Authority,  experience — pushed  aside 

By  any  upstart  pleading  throng  and  press 

0'    the   people  !     '  Think,  say,    do   thus  ! '     Wherefore, 

pray  ? 
'  We  are  the  peoi:)le  :  who  impugns  our  right 
Of  choosing  Kleon  that  tans  hide  so  well, 
Huperbolos  that  turns  out  lamps  so  trim, 
Hemp-seller  Eukrates  or  Lusikles 
Sheep-dealer,  Kephalos  the  potter's  son, 
Diitriphes  who  weaves  the  willow-work 
To  go  round  bottles,  and  Nausikudes 
The  meal-man  ?    Such  wc  choose  and  more,  tlieir  mates. 
To  think  and  say  and  do  in  our  behalf ! ' 
While  sophistry  wagged  tongue,  emboldened  still, 
Found  matter  to  propose,  contest,  defend, 


'Stablish,  turn  topsyturvy, — all  the  same, 
No  matter  what,  provided  the  result 
Were  something  new  in  place  of  something  old, — 
Set  wagging  by  pure  insolence  of  soul 
Which  needs  must  pry  into,  have  warrant  for 
Each  right,  each  privilege  good  policy 
Protects  from  curious  eye  and  prating  mouth  ! 
Everywhere  lust  to  shape  the  world  anew, 
Spurn  this  Athenai  as  we  find  her,  build 
A  new  impossible  Cloudcuckooburg 
For  feather-headed  birds,  once  solid  men. 
Where  rules,  discarding  jolly  habitude, 
Nourished  on  myrtle-berries  and  stray  ants, 
King  Tereus  who,  turned  Hoopoe  Triple-Crest, 
Shall  terrify  and  bring  the  gods  to  terms  ! 

'  Where  was  I  ?     Oh  !     Things  ailing  thus — I  ask. 
What  cure  ?     Cut,  thrust,  hack,  hew  at  heap-on-heaped 


Abomination  with  the  exquisite 

Palaistra-tool  of  poHshed  Tragedy  ? 

'  Erechtheus  '  shall  harangue  Amphiktuon, 

And  incidentally  drop  word  of  weight 

On  justice,  righteousness,  so  turn  aside 

The  audience  from  attacking  Sicily  ! — 

The  more  that  Choros,  after  he  recounts 

How  Phrixos  rode  the  ram,  the  f:\r-fiu-ned  Fleece, 

Shall  add — at  last  fall  of  grave  dancing-foot — 

'  Aggression  never  yet  was  helped  by  Zeus  !  ' 

That  helps  or  hinders  Alkibiades  ? 

As  well  expect,  should  Pheidias  carve  Zeus'  self 

And  set  him  up,  some  half  a  mile  away, 

His  frown  would  frighten  sparrows  from  your  field  ! 

Eagles  may  recognize  their  lord,  belike, 

But  as  for  vulgar  sparrows, — change  the  god, 

And  plant  some  big  Priapos  with  a  pole  ! 

/  I  wield  the  Comic  weapon  rather — hate  ! 


Hate  !  honest,  earnest,  and  directest  hate — 

Warfare  wherein  I  close  with  enemy, 

Call  him  one  name  and  fifty  epithets. 

Remind  you  his  great-grandfather  sold  bran, 

Describe  the  new  exomion,  sleeveless  coat 

He  knocked  me  down  last  night  and  robbed  me  of, 

Protest  he  voted  for  a  tax  on  air  ! 

And  all  this  hate — if  I  write  Comedy — 

With  tolerance,  most  like— applause,  perhaps 

True  veneration ;  for  I  praise  the  god 

Present  in  person  of  his  minister, 

And  pay — the  wilder  my  extravagance — 

The  more  appropriate  worship  to  the  Power 

Adulterous,  night-roaming,  and  the  rest  : 

Otherwise, — that  originative  force 

Of  nature,  impulse  stirring  death  to  life. 

Which,  underlying  law,  seems  lawlessness, 

Yet  is  the  outbreak  which,  ere  order  be. 


Must  thrill  creation  through,  warm  stocks  and  stones, 
Phales  lacchos. 

"  Comedy  for  me  ! 
Why  not  for  you,  my  Tragic  masters  ?     Sneaks 
Whose  art  is  mere  desertion  of  a  trust  ! 
Such  weapons  lay  to  hand,  the  ready  club, 
The  clay-ball,  on  the  ground  a  stone  to  snatch, — 
Arms  fit  to  bruise  the  boar's  neck,  break  the  chine 
O'  the  wolf, — and  you  must  impiously— despise  ? 
No,  I'll  say,  furtively  let  fell  that  trust 
Consigned  you  !     'Twas  not  '  take  or  leave  alone,' 
But  '  take  and,  wielding,  recognize  your  god 
In  his  prime  attributes  ! '     And  though  full  soon 
You  sneaked,  subsided  into  poetry, 
Nor  met  your  due  reward,  still, — heroize 
And  speechify  and  sing-song  and  forego 
Far  as  you  may  your  function, — still  its  pact 


Endures,  one  piece  of  early  homage  still 
Exacted  of  you  ;  after  your  three  bouts 
At  hoitytoity,  great  men  with  long  words, 
And  so  forth, — at  the  end,  must  tack  itself 
The  genuine  sample,  the  Satyric  Play, 
Concession,  with  its  wood-boys'  fun  and  freak, 
To  the  true  taste  of  the  mere  multitude. 
Yet,  there  again  !     What  does  your  Still-at-itch, 
Always-the-innovator  ?     Shrugs  and  shirks  ! 
Out  of  his  fifty  Trilogies,  some  five 
Are  somehow  suited  :  Satyrs  dance  and  sing, 
Try  merriment,  a  grimly  prank  or  two, 
Sour  joke  squeezed  through  pursed  lips  and  teeth  on  edge, 
Then  quick  on  top  of  toe  to  pastoral  sport, 
Goat-tending  and  sheep-herding,  cheese  and  cream, 
Soft  grass  and  silver  rillets,  country-fare  — 
When   throats   were    promised   Thasian  !      Five    such 
feats, — 


Then  frankly  off  he  threw  the  yoke  :  next  Droll, 

Next  festive  drama,  covenanted  fun, 

Decent  reversion  to  indecency, 

Proved — your  '  Alkestis  ! '     There's  quite  fun  enough, 

Herakles  dnnik  1     From  out  fote's  blackening  wave 

Calamitous,  just  zigzags  some  shot  star. 

Poor  promise  of  faint  joy,  and  turns  the  laugh 

On  dupes  whose  fears  and  tears  were  all  in  waste  ! 

"  For  which  sufficient  reasons,  in  truth's  name, 
I  closed  with  whom  you  coimt  the  Meaner  Muse. 
Classed  me  with  Comic  Poets  who  should  weld 
Dark  with  bright  metal,  show  their  blade  may  keep 
Its  adamantine  birthright  though  a-blaze 
Witli  poetry,  the  gold,  and  wit,  the  gem, 
And  strike  mere  gold,  unstiffened  out  by  steel. 
Gem,  no  rough  iron  joints  its  strength  around, 
From  hand  of — posturer,  not  combatant  ! 


"  Such  was  my  purpose  :  it  succeeds,  I  say  ! 

Have  not  we  beaten  Kallikratidas, 

Not  humbled  Sparte  ?     Peace  awaits  our  word, 

In  spite  of  Theramenes,  and  his  Hke. 

Since  my  previsions, — warranted  too  well 

By  the  long  war  now  waged  and  worn  to  end — 

Had  spared  such  heritage  of  misery, 

My  after-counsels  scarce  need  fear  repulse. 

Athenai,  taught  prosperity  has  wings, 

Cages  the  glad  recapture.     Demos,  see, 

From  folly's  premature  decrepitude 

Boiled  young  again,  emerges  from  the  stew 

Of  twenty-five  years'  trouble,  sits  and  sways, 

One  brilliance  and  one  balsam, — sways  and  sits 

Monarch  of  Hellas !  ay  and,  sage  again, 

No  longer  jeopardizes  chieftainship, 

No  longer  loves  the  brutish  demagogue 

Appointed  by  a  bestial  multitude, 


But  seeks  out  sound  advisers.     Who  are  tliey  ? 

Ourselves,  of  parentage  proved  wise  and  good  ! 

To  such  may  hap  strains  thwarting  quahty, 

(As  where  shall  want  its  flaw  mere  human  stuff?) 

Still,  the  right  grain  is  proper  to  right  race ; 

^^'hat's  contrary,  call  curious  accident  ! 

Hold  by  the  usual  !  Orchard-grafted  tree, 

Not  wilding,  race-horse-sired,  not  rouncey-born, 

Aristocrat,  no  sausage-selling  snob  ! 

Nay,  why  not  Alkibiades,  come  back 

Filled  by  the  Genius,  freed  of  petulance. 

Frailty, — say,  youthfulness  that's  all  at  fault, — 

Renewed  to  Perikles  and  something  more  ? 

— Being  at  least  our  duly  born  and  bred, — 

Curse  on  what  chaunoprockt  first  gained  his  ear 

And  got  his  .  .  .  well,  once  true  man  in  right  place. 

Our  commonalty  soon  content  themselves 

With  doing  just  what  they  are  born  to  do, 



Eat,  drink,  make  merry,  mind  their  own  affairs 

And  leave  state-business  to  the  larger  brain  ! 

I  do  not  stickle  for  their  punishment ; 

But  certain  culprits  have  a  cloak  to  twitch, 

A  purse  to  pay  the  piper  :  flog,  say  I, 

Your  fine  fantastics,  paragons  of  parts, 

Who  choose  to  play  the  important  !  Far  from  side 

With  us,  their  natural  supports,  allies, — 

And,  best  by  brain,  help  who  are  best  by  birth 

To  fortify  each  weak  point  in  the  wall 

Built  broad  and  wide  and  deep  for  permanence 

Between  what's  high  and  low,  what's  rare  and  vile,— 

They  cast  their  lot  perversely  in  with  low 

And  vile,  lay  flat  the  barrier,  lift  the  mob 

To  dizzy  heights  where  Privilege  stood  firm. 

And  then,  simplicity  become  conceit, — 

Woman,  slave,  common  soldier,  artisan, 

Crazy  with  new-found  worth,  new-fangled  claims, — 


These  must  be  taught  next  how  to  use  their  lieads 
And  hands  in  driving  man's  right  to  mob's  rule  ! 
What  fellows  thus  inflame  the  multitude? 
Your  Sokrates,  still  crying  '  Understand  ! ' 
Your  AristuUos, — '  Argiie  ! '  Last  and  worst, 
Should,  by  good  fortune,  mob  still  hesitate, 
Remember  there's  degree  in  heaven  and  earth, 
Cry  '  Aischulos  enjoined  us  fear  the  gods, 
And  Sophokles  advised  respect  the  kings  ! ' 
Why,  your  Euripides  informs  them — Gods  ? 
They  are  not !  Kings  ?  They  are,  but  ...  do  not  I, 
In    '  Suppliants,'    make    my    Theseus, — yours,    no 

more, — 
Fire  up  at  insult  of  who  styles  him  King  ? 
Play  off  that  Herald,  I  despise  the  most, 
As  patronizing  kings'  prerogative 
Against  a  Theseus  proud  to  dare  no  step 
Till  he  consult  the  people  ? 

L  2 


"  Such  as  these — 
Ah,  you  expect  I  am  for  strangling  straight  ? 
Nowise,  Balaustion  !  All  my  roundabout 
Ends  at  beginning,  with  my  own  defence  ! 
I  dose  each  culprit  just  with — Comedy. 
Let  each  be  doctored  in  exact  the  mode 
Himself  prescribes  :  by  words,  the  word-monger — 
INIy  words  to  his  words, — my  lies,  if  you  like, 
To  his  lies.     Sokrates  I  nickname  thief. 
Quack,  necromancer  ;  AristuUos, — say, 
Male  Kirke  who  bewitches  and  bewrays 
And  changes  folk  to  swine  ;  Euripides, — 
Well,  I  acknowledge  !  Every  word  is  false, 
Looked  close  at ;  but  stand  distant  and  stare  through, 
All's  absolute  indubitable  truth 
Behind  lies,  truth  which  only  lies  declare ! 
For  come,  concede  me  truth's  in  thing  not  word, 
Meaning  not  manner  !  Love  smiles  'rogue'  and  'wretch' 


When  '  sweet '  and  '  dear '  seem  vapid  ;  Hate  adopts 
Love's  'sweet'  and  'dear,'  when   'rogue  '  and  '  wretch  ' 

fall  flat ; 
Love,  Hate — are  truths,  then,  each,  in  sense  not  sound. 
Further  :  if  Love,  remaining  Love,  fell  back 
On  '  sweet '  and  '  dear,' — if  Hate,  though  Hate  the  same, 
Dro])ped  down   to  '  rogue  '  and  '  wretch,' — each  phrase 

were  false. 
(Jood  !  and  now  grant  I  hate  no  matter  whom 
With  reason  :  I  must  therefore  fight  my  foe, 
Finish  the  mischief  which  made  enmity. 
How  ?     By  emplo}ing  means  to  most  hurt  him 
\Vho  much  harmed  me.     AMiat  way  did  he  do  harm  ? 
Through  word  or  deed  ?     Through  word  ?   with  word, 

wage  war  ! 
\\'ord  with  myself  directly  ?     As  direct 
Reply  shall  follow  :  word  to  you,  the  wise. 
Whence  indirectly  came  the  harm  to  me  ? 


What  wisdom  I  can  muster  waits  on  such  ! 

Word  to  the  populace  which,  misconceived 

By  ignorance  and  incapacity, 

Ends  in  no  such  effect  as  follows  cause 

When  I,  or  you  the  wise,  are  reasoned  with, 

So  damages  what  I  and  you  hold  dear  ? 

In  that  event,  I  ply  the  populace 

With  just  such  word  as  leavens  their  whole  lump 

To  the  right  ferment  for  my  purpose.     They 

Arbitrate  properly  between  us  both  ? 

They  weigh  my  answer  with  his  argument, 

Match  quip  with  quibble,  wit  mth  eloquence  ? 

All  they  attain  to  understand  is — blank  1 

Two  adversaries  differ  !  which  is  right 

And  which  is  wrong,  none  takes  on  him  to  say, 

Since  both  are  unintelligible.     Pooh  ! 

Swear  my  foe's  mother  vended  herbs  she  stole. 

They  fall  a-laughing  !     Add, — his  household  drudge 



Of  all-work  justifies  that  office  well, 

Kisses  the  wife,  composing  him  the  play, — 

They  grin  at  whom  they" gaped  in  wonderment, 

And  go  off—'  Was  he  such  a  sorry  scrub  ? 

This  other  seems  to  know  !  we  praised  too  fast ! ' 

Why  then,  my  lies  have  done  the  work  of  truth, 

Since  '  scrub,'  improper  designation,  means 

Exactly  what  the  proper  argument 

—Had  such  been  comprehensible— proposed 

To  proper  audience — were  I  graced  with  such — 

Would  properly  result  in  ;  so  your  friend 

Gets  an  impartial  verdict  on  his  verse 

'  The  tongue  swears,  but  the  soul  remains  unsworn  ! ' 

"  There,  my  Balaustion  !     All  is  summed  and  said. 
No  other  cause  of  quarrel  with  yourself ! 
Euripides  and  Aristophanes 
Differ :  he  needs  must  round  our  diflference 


Into  the  mob's  ear  ;  with  the  mob  I  plead. 

You  angrily  start  forward  '  This  to  me  ?  ' 

No  speck  of  this  on  you  the  thrice  refined  ! 

Could  parley  be  restricted  to  us  two, 

My  first  of  duties  were  to  clear  up  doubt 

As  to  our  true  divergence  each  from  each. 

Does  my  opinion  so  diverge  from  yours  ? 

Probably  less  than  little — not  at  all ! 

To  know  a  matter,  for  my  very  self 

And  intimates — that's  one  thing  ;  to  imply 

By  '  knowledge  ' — loosing  whatsoe'er  I  know 

Among  the  vulgar  who,  by  mere  mistake, 

May  brain  themselves  and  me  in  consequence, — 

That's  quite  another.     *  O  the  daring  flight  ! 

This  only  bard  maintains  the  exalted  brow, 

Nor  grovels  in  the  slime  nor  fears  the  gods  ! ' 

Did  /fear — /play  superstitious  fool. 

Who,  with  the  due  proviso,  introduced, 


Active  and  passive,  their  whole  company 
As  creatures  too  absurd  for  scorn  itself? 
Zeus?      I    have    styled   him— 'slave,   mere    thrashing- 
block  ! ' 
I'll  tell  you  :  in  my  very  next  of  plays, 
At  Bacchos'  feast,  in  Bacchos'  honor,  full 
1  n  front  of  Bacchos'  representative, 
I  mean  to  make  main-actor — Bacchos'  self ! 
Forth  shall  he  strut,  apparent,  first  to  last, 
A  blockhead,  coward,  braggart,  liar,  thief. 
Demonstrated  all  these  by  his  own  niere 
Xanthias  the  man-slave  :  such  man  shows  such  god 
Shamed  to  bmte-beastship  by  comparison  ! 
And  when  ears  have  their  fill  of  his  abuse, 
And  eyes  are  sated  with  his  pummeling, — 
My  Choros  taking  care,  by,  all  the  while 
Singing  his  glor}-,  that  men  recognize 
A  god  in  the  abused  and  pummeled  beast, — 



Then,  should  one  ear  be  stopped  of  auditor, 

Should  one  spectator  shut  revolted  eye, — • 

Why,  the  Priest's  self  will  first  raise  outraged  voice 

'  Back,  thou  barbarian,  thou  ineptitude  ! 

Does  not  most  license  hallow  best  our  day, 

And  least  decorum  prove  its  strictest  rite  ? 

Since  Bacchos  bids  his  followers  play  the  fool. 

And  there's  no  fooling  like  a  majesty 

Mocked  at, — who  mocks  the  god,  obeys  the  law — 

Law  which,  impute  but  indiscretion  to, 

And  .  ,  .  why,  the  spirit  of  Euripides 

Is  evidently  active  in  the  world  ! ' 

Do  I  stop  here?     No  !  feat  of  flightier  force  ! 

See  Hermes  !  what  commotion  raged, — reflect  ! — 

When  imaged  god  alone  got  injury 

By  dnmkards'  frolic  !     How  Athenai  stared 

Aghast,  then  fell  to  frenzy,  fit  on  fit, — 

Ever  the  last,  the  longest  !     At  this  hour, 


The  craze  abates  a  little  ;  so,  my  Play 

Shall  have  up  Hermes  :  and  a  Karion,  slave, 

(Since  there's  no  getting  lower)  calls  our  friend 

The  profitable  god,  we  honour  so, 

Whatever  contumely  fouls  the  mouth — 

Bids  him  go  earn  more  honest  livelihood 

l]y  washing  tripe  in  well-trough — wash  he  does, 

Duly  obedient !     Have  I  dared  my  best  ? 

Asklepios,  answer  ! — deity  in  vogue, 

\\'ho  visits  Sophokles  familiarly, 

If  you  believe  the  old  man, — at  his  age, 

Living  is  dreaming,  and  strange  guests  haunt  door 

Of  house,  belike,  peep  through  and  tap  at  times 

When  a  friend  yawns  there,  waiting  to  be  fetched, — 

At  any  rate,  to  memorize  the  fact. 

He  has  spent  money,  set  an  altar  up 

In  the  god's  temple,  now  in  much  repute. 

That  temple-service  trust  me  to  describe — 


Cheaters  and  choused,  the  god,  his  brace  of  girls, 
Their  snake,  and  how  they  manage  to  snap  gifts 
'  And  consecrate  the  same  into  a  bag,' 
For  whimsies  done  away  with  in  the  dark  ! 
As  if,  a  stone's  throw  from  that  theatre 
Whereon  I  thus  unmask  their  dupery, 
The  thing  were  not  rehgious  and  august  ! 

"  Of  Sophokles  himself— nor  word  nor  sign 

Beyond  a  harmless  parody  or  so  ! 

He  founds  no  anti-school,  upsets  no  faith, 

But,  living,  lets  live,  the  good  easy  soul 

Who, — if  he  saves  his  cash,  unpoetlike. 

Loves  wine  and — never  mind  what  other  sport. 

Boasts  for  his  father  just  a  sword-blade-smith, 

Proves  but  queer  captain  when  the  people  claim, 

For  one  who  conquered  with  '  Antigone,' 

The  right  to  undertake  a  squadron's  charge, — 


And  needs  die  son's  help  now  to  finisli  plays, 
Seeing  his  dotage  calls  for  governance 
And  loplion  to  share  his  property, — 
AVhy,  of  all  this,  reported  true,  I  breathe 
Not  one  word — true  or  false,  I  like  the  man  ! 
Sophokles  lives,  and  lets  live  :  long  live  he  ! 
Otherwise, — sharp  the  scourge  and  hard  the  blow  ! 

"  And  what's  my  teaching  but — accept  the  old, 
Contest  the  strange  !  acknowledge  work  that's  done, 
Misdoubt  men  who  have  still  their  work  to  do  ! 
Religions,  laws  and  customs,  poetries. 
Are  old  ?     So  much  achieved  victorious  truth  ! 
Each  work  was  product  of  a  life-time,  wnmg 
From  each  man  by  an  adverse  world  :  for  why  ? 
He  worked,  destroying  other  older  work 
Which  the  world  loved  and  so  was  loth  to  lose. 
Whom  the  world  beat  in  battle — dust  and  ash  ! 


Who  beat  the  world,  left  work  in  evidence, 

And  wears  its  crown  till  new  men  live  new  lives. 

And  fight  new  fights,  and  triumph  in  their  turn. 

I  mean  to  show  you  on  the  stage  !  you'll  see 

My  Just  Judge  only  venture  to  decide 

Between  two  suitors,  which  is  god,  which  man, 

By  thrashing  both  of  them  as  flesh  can  bear. 

You  shall  agree, — whichever  bellows  first, 

He's  human  \  who  holds  longest  out,  divine  : 

That  is  the  only  equitable  test  ! 

Cruelty  ?     Pray,  who  pricked  them  on  to  court 

My  thong's  award  ?     Must  they  needs  dominate  ? 

Then  I — rebel !     Their  instinct  grasps  the  new  ? 

Mine  bids  retain  the  old  :  a  fight  must  be, 

And  which  is  stronger  the  event  will  show. 

O  but  the  pain  !  Your  proved  divinity 

Still  smarts  all  reddened  ?     And  the  rightlier  served  ! 

Was  not  some  man's-flesh  in  him,  after  all  ? 


Do  let  us  lack  no  frank  acknowledgment 

There's  nature  common  to  both  gods  and  men  ! 

All  of  them — si)irit  ?     \\'hat  so  winced  was  clay  ! 

Away  pretence  to  some  exclusive  sphere 

Cloud-nourishing  a  sole  selected  few 

Fume-fed  with  self-superiority  ! 

I  stand  up  for  the  common  coarse-as-clay 

Existence, — stamp  and  ramp  with  heel  and  hoof 

On  solid  vulgar  life,  you  fools  disown  ! 

Make  haste  from  your  unreal  eminence, 

And  measure  lengths  with  me  upon  that  ground 

Whence  this  mud-pellet  sings  and  summons  you  ! 

I  know  the  soul,  too,  how  the  spark  ascends 

And  how  it  drops  apace  and  dies  away. 

I  am  your  poet-peer,  man  thrice  your  match  ! 

I  too  am  lead  an  airy  life  w^hen  dead. 

Fly  like  Kinesias  when  I'm  cloud-ward  bound  ; 

But  here,  no  death  shall  mix  with  life  it  mars  ! 


"  So,  my  old  enemy  who  caused  the  fight, 

Own  I  have  beaten  you,  Euripides  ! 

Or, — if  your  advocate  would  contravene, — 

Help  him,  Balaustion  !     Use  the  rosy  strength  ! 

I  have  not  done  my  utmost, — treated  you 

As  I  might  Aristullos,  mint-perfi,mied, — 

Still,  let  the  whole  rage  burst  in  brave  attack  ! 

Don't  pay  the  poor  ambiguous  compliment 

Of  fearing  any  pearl-white  knuckled  fist 

Will  damage  this  broad  buttress  of  a  brow  ! 

Fancy  yourself  my  Aristonumos, 

Ameipsias  or  Sannurion  :  punch  and  pound  ! 

Three  cuckoos  who  cry  '  cuckoo  ' !  much  I  care  ! 

They  boil  a  stone  !  Neblaretai  !  Haflei  f" 

Cannot  your  task  have  end  here,  Euthukles  ? 
Day  by  day  glides  our  galley  on  its  path  : 


Still  sunrise  and  still  sunset,  Rhodes  half-reached, 

And  still,  my  patient  scribe  I  no  sunset's  peace 

Descends  more  punctual  than  that  brow's  incline 

O'er  tablets  which  your  serviceable  hand 

Prepares  to  trace.     Why  treasure  up,  forsooth, 

These  relics  of  a  night  that  left  me  rich. 

But,  in  remembrance  merely,  makes  less  poor 

None,  stranger  to  Athenai  and  her  past  ? 

For — how  remembered  !     As  some  greedy  hind 

Persuades  a  honeycomb,  beyond  the  due, 

To  yield  its  hoarding, — heedless  what  alloy 

Of  the  poor  bee's  own  substance  taints  the  gold 

Wliich,  unforced,  yields  few  drops,  but  purity, — 

So  would  you  fain  relieve  of  load  this  brain. 

Though  the  hived  thoughts  must  bring  away,  with  strength. 

What  words  and  weakness,  strength's  receptacle — 

Wax  from  the  store  !     Yet, — aching  soothed  away, — 

Accept  the  compound  !     No  suspected  scent 



But  proves  some  rose  was  rifled,  though  its  ghost 
Scarce  Hngers  with  what  promised  musk  and  myrrh. 
No  need  of  farther  squeezing  !     What  remains 
Can  only  be  Balaustion,  just  her  speech  ! 

Ah,  but — because  speech  serves  a  purpose  still  ! — 

He  ended  with  that  flourish.     I  replied, 

Fancy  myself  your  Aristonumos  ? 

Advise  me,  rather,  to  remain  myself, 

Balaustion, — mindful  what  mere  mouse  confronts 

The  forest-monarch  Aristophanes  ! 

I  who,  a  woman,  claim  no  cjuality 

Beside  the  love  of  all  things  loveable 

Created  by  that  power  pre-eminent 

In  knowledge,  as  in  love  I  stand  perchance, 

ARISTOrifAh'ES'   APOLOGY.  163 

— You,  the  consummately-creative  !     How 

Should  I,  then,  dare  deny  submissive  trust 

To  any  process  aiming  at  result 

Such  as  you  say  your  songs  are  pregnant  with? 

Result,  all  judge  :   means,  let  none  scrutinize 

Save  those  aware  how  glory  best  is  gained 

By  daring  means  to  end,  ashamed  of  shame, 

Constant  in  faith  that  only  good  works  good, 

While  evil  yields  no  fruit  but  impotence  ! 

Graced  with  such  plain  good,  I  accept  the  means  ! 

Nay,  if  result  itself  in  turn  become 

Means, — who  shall  say  ? — to  ends  still  loftier  yet, — 

Though  still  the  good  ])rove  hard  to  understand, 

The  bad  still  seemingly  predominate, — 

Never  may  I  forget  which  order  bears 

The  burden,  toils  to  win  the  great  reward, 

And  finds,  in  failure,  the  grave  punishment, 

So,  meantime,  claims  of  me  a  fliith  I  yield  ! 

M  2 


Moreover,  a  mere  woman,  I  recoil 

From  what  may  prove  man's-work  permissible, 

Imperative.     Rough  strokes  surprise  :  what  then  ? 

Some  lusty  armsweep  needs  must  cause  the  crash 

Of  thorn  and  bramble  ere  those  shrubs,  those  flowers, 

We  fain  would  have  earth  yield  exclusi\-ely. 

Are  sown,  matured,  are  garlanded  for  boys 

And  girls,  who  know  not  how  the  growth  was  gained, 

Finall)',  am  I  not  a  foreigner  ? 

No  born  and  bred  Athenian, — isled  about, 

I  scarce  can  drink,  like  you,  at  every  breath, 

Just  some  particular  doctrine  which  may  best 

Explain  the  strange  thing  I  revolt  against — 

How — by  involvement,  who  may  extricate  ? — 

Religion  perks  up  through  impiety, 

Law  leers  with  licence,  folly  wise-like  frowns, 

The  seemly  lurks  inside  the  abominable. 

But  opposites, — each  neutralizes  each 


Ilaply  by  mixture  :  what  sliould  promise  death, 

May  haply  give  the  good  ingredient  force, 

Disperse  in  fume  the  antagonistic  ill. 

This  institution,  therefore, — Comedy, — 

By  origin,  a  rite ;  by  exercise. 

Proved  an  achievement  tasking  poet's  power 

'1  o  utmost,  eking  legislation  out 

Ikyond  the  legislator's  faculty. 

Playing  the  censor  where  the  moralist 

Declines  his  function,  fiir  too  dignified 

For  dealing  with  minute  absurdities  ; 

P>y  efiicacy, — virtue's  guard,  the  scourge 

( )f  vice,  eacli  folly's  fly-flap,  arm  in  aid 

Of  all  that's  righteous,  customary,  sound 

And  wholesome  ;  sanctioned  tliereforc, — better  say, 

Prescribed  for  fit  acceptance  of  this  age 

P>y,  not  alone  the  long  recorded  roll 

Of  earlier  triumphs  but,  success  to-day — 


{The  multitude  as  prompt  recipient  still 
Of  good  gay  teaching  from  that  monitor 
They  crowned  this  morning — Aristophanes — 
As  when  Sousarion's  car  first  traversed  street) — 
This  product  of  Athenai — /  dispute, 
Impugn?     Tliere's  just  one  only  circumstance 
Explains  that  !     I,  poor  critic,  see,  hear,  feel ; 
But  eyes,  ears,  senses  prove  me — foreigner  ! 
Who  shall  gainsay  that  the  raw  new-come  guest 
Blames  oft,  too  sensitive  ?     On  every  side 
Of — larger  than  your  stage — life's  spectacle, 
Convention  here  permits  and  there  forbids 
Impulse  and  action,  nor  alleges  more 
Than  some  mysterious  '  So  do  all,  and  so 
Does  no  one  : '  which  the  hasty  stranger  blames 
Because,  who  bends  the  head  unquestioning. 
Transgresses,  turns  to  wrong  what  else  were  right. 
By  failure  of  a  reference  to  law 


Beyond  convention;  blames  unjustly,  too — 

As  if,  through  that  defect,  all  gained  were  lost 

And  slave-brand  set  on  brow  indelibly  ; — 

Blames  unobservant  or  experienceless 

That  men,  like  trees,  if  stout  and  sound  and  -sane. 

Show  stem  no  more  affected  at  the  root 

By  bough's  exceptional  submissive  dip 

Of  leaf  and  bell,  light  danced  at  end  of  spray 

To  windy  fitfulness  in  wayward  sport, — 

No  more  lie  prostrate, — than  low  files  of  flower 

Which,  when  the  blast  goes  by,  unruffled  raise 

Each  head  again  o'er  ruder  meadow-wreck 

Of  thorn  and  thistle  that  refractory 

Demurred  to  cower  at  passing  wind's  caprice. 

Why  shall  not  guest  extend  like  charity, 

Conceive  ho\v, — even  when  astounded  most 

That  natives  seem  to  acquiesce  in  muck 

Changed  by  prescription,  they  affirm,  to  gold,— 


Such  may  still  bring  to  test,  still  bear  away 

Safely  and  surely  much  of  good  and  true 

Though  latent  ore,  themselves  unspecked,  unspoiled? 

Fresh  bathed  i'  the  icebrook,  any  hand  may  pass 

A  placid  moment  through  the  lamp's  fierce  flame  : 

And  who  has  read  your  '  Lemnians,'  seen  '  The  Hours,' 

Heard  '  Female-Playhouse-seat-Preoccupants,' 

May  feel  no  worse  effect  than,  once  a  year, 

Those  who  leave  decent  vesture,  dress  in  rags 

And  play  the  mendicant,  conform  thereby 

To  country's  rite,  and  then,  no  beggar-taint 

Retained,  don  vesture  due  next  morrow-day. 

What  if  I  share  the  stranger's  weakness  then  ? 

Well,  should  I  also  show  his  strength,  his  sense 

Untutored,  ay  I — but  then  untampered  with  ! 

I  fancy,  though  the  world  seems  old  enough. 
Though  Hellas  be  the  sole  unbarbarous  land, 


Years  may  conduct  to  such  extreme  of  age, 

And  outside  Hellas  such  new  isles  may  lurk, 

That  haply,— when  and  where  remain  a  dream  ! — 

In  fresh  days  when  no  Hellas  fills  the  world, 

In  novel  lands  as  strange  where,  all  the  same, 

'I'heir  men  and  women  yet  behold,  as  we. 

Blue  heaven,  black  earth,  and  love,  hate,  hope  and  fear. 

Over  again,  unhelped  by  Attikd — 

Haply  some  philanthropic  god  steers  bark. 

Gift-laden,  to  the  lonely  ignorance 

Islanded,  say,  where  mist  and  snow  mass  hard 

To  metal — ay,  those  Kassiterides  ! 

Then  asks  :  '  Ye  apprehend  the  human  form. 

What  of  this  statue,  made  to  Pheidias'  mind. 

This  picture,  as  it  pleased  our  Zeuxis  paint  ? 

Ye  too  feel  truth,  love  beauty  :  judge  of  these  ! ' 

Such  strangers  may  judge  feebly,  stranger-like  : 

'  Each  hair  too  indistinct — for,  see  our  own  1 


Hands,  not  skin-coloured  as  these  hands  we  have, 

And  lo,  the  want  of  due  decorum  here  ! 

A  citizen,  arrayed  in  civic  garb, 

Just  as  he  walked  your  streets  apparently, 

Yet  wears  no  sword  by  side,  adventures  thus, 

In  thronged  Athenai  !  foolish  painter' s-freak  ! 

While  here's  his  brother-sculptor  found  at  fault 

Still  more  egregiously,  who  shames  the  world. 

Shows  wrestler,  wrestling  at  the  public  games. 

Atrociously  exposed  from  head  to  foot  ! ' 

Sure,  the  Immortal  would  impart  at  once 

Our  slow-stored  knowledge,  how  small  truths  suppressed 

Conduce  to  the  far  greater  truth's  display, — 

Would  replace  simple  by  instructed  sense, 

And  teach  them  how  Athenai  first  so  tamed 

The  natural  fierceness  that  her  progeny 

Discarded  arms  nor  feared  the  beast  in  man  : 

Wherefore  at  games,  where  earth's  wise  gi-atitude, 


Proved  by  responsive  culture,  claimed  the  prize 
For  man's  mind,  body,  each  in  excellence, — 
When  mind  had  bared  itself,  came  body's  turn, 
And  only  irreligion  grudged  the  gods 
One  naked  glory  of  their  master-work 
Where  all  is  glorious  rightly  understood, — 
The  human  frame  ;  enough  that  man  mistakes  : 
Let  him  not  think  the  gods  mistaken  too  ! " 

But,  peradventurc,  if  the  stranger's  eye 
Detected  .  .  .  Ah,  too  high  my  fancy-flight ! 
Pheidias,  forgive,  and  Zeuxis  bear  with  me — ■ 
How  on  your  faultless  should  I  fasten  fault 
Of  my  own  framing,  even  ?     Only  say, — 
Suppose  the  impossible  were  realized, 
And  some  as  patent  incongruity. 
Unseemliness, — of  no  more  warrant,  there 
And  then,  than  now  and  here,  whate'er  the  time 


And  place, — I  say,  the  Immortal, — who  can  doubt  ? — 
Would  never  shrink,  but  own  '  The  blot  escaped 
Our  artist :  thus  he  shows  humanity  !  ' 

"  May  stranger  tax  one  peccant  part  in  thee, 
Poet,  three-parts  divine  ?     May  I  proceed  ? 

"  '  Comedy  is  prescription  and  a  rite.' 

Since  when?     No  growth  of  the  blind  antique  time, 

'  It  rose  in  Attike  with  liberty ; 

When  freedom  falls,  it  too  will  fall.'     Scarce  so  ! 

Your  games, —  the  Olympian,  Zeus  gave  birth  to  these  ; 

Your  Pythian, — these  were  Phoibos'  institute. 

Isthmian,  Nemeian, — Theseus,  Herakles 

Appointed  each,  the  boys  and  barbers  say  ! 

Earth's  day  is  growing  late  :  where's  Comedy  ? 

'  Oh,  that  commenced,  an  age  since, — two,  belike, — 

In  Megara,  whence  here  they  brought  the  thing  I' 


Or  I  misunderstand,  or  here's  the  fact — 

Your  grandsire  could  recall  that  rustic  song, 

How  suchanone  was  thief,  and  miser  such, 

And  how, — immunity  from  chastisement 

Once  promised  to  bold  singers  of  the  same 

By  daylight  on  the  drunkard's  holiday, — 

The  clever  fellow  of  the  joyous  troop 

Tried  acting  what  before  he  sang  about, 

Acted  and  stole,  or  hoarded,  acting  too  : 

While  his  companions  ranged  a-row,  closed  up 

For  Choros, — bade  the  general  rabblement 

Sit,  see,  hear,  laugh, — not  join  the  dance  themselves. 

Soon,  the  same  clever  fellow  found  a  mate. 

And  these  two  did  the  whole  stage-mimicking. 

Still  closer  in  approach  to  Tragedy, — 

So  led  the  way  to  Aristophanes, 

^Vhose  grandsire  saw  Sousarion,  and  whose  sire — 

Chionides  ;  yourself  wrote  '  Banqueters  ' 


When  Aischnlos  had  made  '  Promedieus,'  nay, 

All  of  the  marvels  ;  Sophokles, — I'll  cite, 

'  Oidipous  ' — and  Euripides — I  bend 

The  head — '  Medeia'  henceforth  awed  the  world  ! 

'  Banqueters  '  '  Babylonians' — next  come  you  ! 

Surely  the  great  days  that  left  Hellas  free 

Happened  before  such  advent  of  huge  help, 

Eighty-years-late  assistance  ?     Marathon, 

Plataia,  Salamis  were  fought,  I  think. 

Before  new  educators  stood  reproved, 

Or  foreign  legates  blushed,  excepted  to  ! 

Where  did  the  helpful  rite  pretend  its  rise  ? 

Did  it  break  forth,  as  gifts  divine  are  wont, 

Plainly  authentic,  incontestably 

Adequate  to  the  helpful  ordinance  ? 

Founts,  dowered  with  virtue,  pulse  out  pure  from  source  ; 

Tis  there  we  taste  the  god's  benign  intent : 

Not  when, — fatigued  away  by  journey,  foul 


With  bnitish  trampling, — crystal  sinks  to  slime, 

And  lymph  forgets  the  first  salubriousness. 

Sprang  Comedy  to  light  thus  crystal-pure  ? 

'  Nowise  ! '  yourself  protest  with  vehemence  ; 

'Gross,  bestial,  did  the  clowns  '  diversion  break  ; 

Every  successor  paddled  in  the  slush  ; 

Nay,  my  contemporaries  one  and  all 

Gay  played  the  mudlark  till  I  joined  their  game  ; 

Then  was  I  first  to  change  buffoonery 

For  wit,  and  stupid  filth  for  cleanly  sense, 

Transforming  pointless  joke  to  purpose  fine, 

Transfusing  rude  enforcement  of  home-law — 

"Drop    knave's-tricks,   deal    more    neighbour- like,    ye 

boors  !  " — 
With  such  new  glory  of  poetic  breath 
As,  lifting  application  flir  past  use 
O'  the  present,  launched  it  o'er  men's  lowly  heads 
To  future  time,  when  high  and  low  alike 


Are  dead  and  done  with,  while  my  airy  power 

Fhes  disengaged,  as  vapour  from  what  stuff 

It — say  not,  dwelt — but  fitlier,  dallied  with 

To  forward  work,  which  done, — deliverance  brave, — 

It  soars  away,  and  mud  subsides  to  dust. 

Say  then,  myself  invented  Comedy  ! ' 

So  mouths  full  many  a  famed  Parabasis  ! 

Agreed  !     No  more,  then,  of  prescriptive  use. 

Authorization  by  antiquity, 

For  what  offends  our  judgment  !     'Tis  your  work, 

Performed  your  way  :  not  work  delivered  you 

Intact,  intact  producible  in  turn. 

Everywhere  have  you  altered  old  to  new — 

Your  will,  your  warrant  :  therefore,  work  must  stand 

Or  stumble  by  intrinsic  worth.     What  worth  ? 

Its  aim  and  object  !  Peace,  you  advocate. 

And  war  would  fain  abolish  from  the  land  : 


Support  religion,  lash  irreverence, 

Yet  laughingly  administer  rebuke 

To  superstitious  folly, — equal  fault ! 

While  innovating  rashness,  lust  of  change, 

New  laws,  new  habits,  manners,  men  and  things. 

Make    your    main    quarry, — "  oldest "    meanmg 

You  check  the  fretful  litigation-itch, 
Withstand  mob-rale,  expose  mob-flattery, 
Punish  mob-favorites  ;  most  of  all  press  hard 
On  sophists  who  assist  the  demagogue, 
And  poets  their  accomplices  in  crime. 
Such  your  main  quarry, — by  the  way,  you  strike 
Ignobler  game,  mere  miscreants,  snob  or  scamp. 
Cowardly,  gluttonous,  effeminate  : 
Still  with  a  bolt  to  spare  when  dramatist 
Proves  haply  unproficient  in  his  art. 
Such  aims — alone,  no  matter  for  the  means — 



Declare  the  unexampled  excellence 
Of  their  first  author — Aristophanes  ! 

Whereat — Euripides,  oh,  not  thyself — 

Augustlier  than  the  need  ! — thy  century 

Of  subjects  dreamed  and  dared  and  done,  before 

'  Banqueters  '  gave  dark  earth  enlightenment. 

Or  '  Babylonians  '  played  Prometheus  here, — 

These  let  me  summon  to  defend  thy  cause  ! 

Lo,  as  indignantly  took  life  and  shape 

Labor  by  labor,  all  of  Herakles, — 

Palpably  fronting  some  o'erbold  pretence 

'  Eurustheus  slew  the  monsters,  purged  the  world  ! ' 

So  shall  each  poem  pass  you  and  imprint 

Shame  on  the  strange  assurance.      You  praised  Peace  ? 

Sing  him  full-face,  Kresphontes  !     '  Peace '  the  theme  ? 

'  Peace,  in  whom  depths  of  wealth  lie, — of  the  blest 

Immortals  beauteousest, — 


Come !  for  tlie  heart  within  me  dies  away, 

So  long  dost  thou  delay  ! 

O  I  have  feared  lest  old  age,  much  annoy, 

Conquer  me,  quite  outstrip  the  tardy  joy. 

Thy  gracious  triumph-season  I  would  see. 

The  song,  the  dance,  the  sport,  profuse  of  crowns  to  be. 

But  come  !  for  my  sake,  goddess  great  and  dear, 

Come  to  the  city  here  ! 

Hateful  Sedition  drive  thou  from  our  homes, 

^\^ith  Her  who  madly  roams 

Rejoicing  in  the  steel  against  the  life 

That's  whetted — banish  Strife  ! ' 

"Shall  I  proceed?     No  need  of  next  and  next ! 
That  were  too  easy,  play  so  presses  play, 
Trooping  tumultuous,  each  with  instance  apt, 
Each  eager  to  confute  the  idle  boast  ! 
What  virtue  but  stands  forth  panegyrized, 

N  2 


What  vice,  unburned  by  stigma,  in  the  books 

Which  bettered  Hellas, — beyond  graven  gold 

Or  gem- indenture,  sung  by  Phoibos'  self 

And  saved  in  Kunthia's  mountain  treasure-house — 

Ere  you,  man,  moralist,  were  youth  or  boy  ? 

— Not  praise  which,  in  the  proffer,  mocks  the  praised 

By  sly  admixture  of  the  blameworthy 

And  enforced  coupling  of  base  fellowship, — 

Not  blame  which  gloats  the  while  it  frowning  laughs, 

"  Allow  one  glance  on  horrors — laughable  !  " — 

This  man's  entire  of  heart  and  soul,  discharged 

Its  love  or  hate,  each  unalloyed  by  each, 

On  objects  worthy  either;  earnestness, 

Attribute  him,  and  power  !  but  novelty? 

Nor  his  nor  yours  a  doctrine — all  the  world's  ! 

What  man  of  full-grown  sense  and  sanity 

Holds  other  than  the  truth, — wide  Hellas  through, — 

Though  truth,  he  acts  discredit  truth  he  holds  ? 


What  imbecile  has  dared  to  formulate 
"  Love  war,  hate  peace,  become  a  litigant !  " — 
And  so  preach  on,  reversing  rule  of  right 
Because  he  quarrels,  combats,  goes  to  law  ? 
No,  for  his  comment  runs,  with  smile  or  sigh 
According  to  heart's  temper,  "  Peace  were  best. 
Except  occasions  when  we  put  aside 
Peace,  and  bid  all  the  blessings  in  her  gift 
Quick  join  the  crows,  for  sake  of  Marathon  ! " 

Nay,  you  reply  ;  for  one,  whose  mind  withstands 

His  heart,  and,  loving  peace,  for  conscience '  sake 

Wants  war, — you  find  a  crowd  of  hypocrites 

Whose  conscience  means  ambition,  grudge  and  greed. 

On  such,  reproof,  sonorous  doctrine,  melts 

Distilled  like  universal  but  thin  dew 

Which  all  too  sparsely  covers  country :  dear. 

No  doubt,  to  universal  crop  and  clown, 


Still,  each  bedewed  keeps  his  own  head-gear  dry 
With  upthrust  skiadeiofi,  shakes  adroit 
The  droppings  to  his  neighbour.     No  !  collect 
All  of  the  moisture,  leave  unhurt  the  heads 
Which  nowise  need  a  washing,  save  and  store 
And  dash  the  whole  condensed  to  one  fierce  spout 
On  some  one  evildoer,  sheltered  close, — 
Fond  he  supposed, — till  you  beat  guard  away. 
And  showed  your  audience,  not  that  war  was  wrong, 
But  Lamachos  absurd, — case,  crests  and  all, — 
Not  that  democracy  was  blind  of  choice, 
But  Kleon  and  Huperbolos  accurst : 
Not  superstition  vile,  but  Nikias  crazed, — 
The  concrete  for  the  abstract  ;  that's  the  way ! 
What  matters  Choros  crying  '  Hence,  impure  !  ' 
You  cried  'Ariphrades  does  thus  and  thus  !  ' 
Now,  earnestness  seems  never  earnest  more 
Than  when  it  dons  for  garb — indifference ; 


So,  there's  much  laughing  :  but,  compensative, 

When  frowning  follows  laughter,  then  indeed 

Scout  inuendo,  sarcasm,  irony  ! — 

Wit's  polished  warfare  glancing  at  first  graze 

From  off  hard  headpiece,  coarsely-coated  brain 

O'  the  commonalty — whom,  unless  you  prick 

To  purpose,  what  avails  that  finer  pates 

Succumb  to  simple  scratching?     Those— not  these — 

'Tis  Multitude,  which,  moved,  fines  Lamachos, 

Banishes  Kleon  and  l)urns  Sokrates, 

House  over  head,  or,  better,  poisons  him. 

Therefore  in  dealing  with  King  Multitude, 

Club-dmb  the  callous  numscuUs  !     In  and  in 

Beat  this  essential  consequential  fact 

That  here  they  have  a  hater  of  the  three. 

Who  hates  in  word,  phrase,  nickname,  epithet 

And  illustration,  beyond  doubt  at  all  ! 

And  similarly,  would  you  win  assent 


To — Peace,  suppose?     You  tickle  the  tough  hide 
With  good  plain  pleasure  her  concomitant — 
And,  past  mistake  again,  exhibit  Peace — 
Peace,  vintager  and  festive,  cheesecake-time, 
Hare-shce-and-peasoup  season,  household-joy  ; 
Theoria's  beautiful  belongings  match 
Oporia's  lavish  condescendings :  brief. 
Since  here  the  people  are  to  judge,  you  press 
Such  argument  as  people  understand  : 
If  with  exaggeration — what  care  you  ? 

Have  I  misunderstood  you  in  the  main  ? 
No  !  then  must  answer  be,  such  argument. 
Such  policy,  no  matter  what  good  love 
Or  hate  it  help,  in  practice  proves  absurd. 
Useless  and  null  :  henceforward  intercepts 
Sober  effective  blow  at  what  you  blame, 
And  renders  nugatory  rightful  praise 


Of  thing  or  person.     The  coarse  brush  has  daubed — 

What  room  for  the  fine  Hmner's  pencil-mark? 

Blame  ?   You  curse,  rather,  till  who  blames  must  blush — 

Lean  to  apology  or  praise,  more  like  ! 

Does  garment,  simpered  o'er  as  white,  prove  grey  ? 

"  Black,  blacker  than  Acharnian  charcoal,  black 

Beyond  Kimmerian,  Stugian  blackness  black," 

You  bawl,  till  men  sigh  "  nearer  snowiness  ! " 

\\'hat  follows  ?     What  one  faint-rewarding  fall 

Of  foe  belaboured  ne'er  so  lustily  ? 

Laugh  Lamachos  from  out  the  people's  heart  ? 

He  died,  commanding,  "hero,"  say  yourself! 

Gibe  Nikias  into  privacy  ?^ — nay,  shake 

Kleon  a  little  from  his  arrogance 

By  cutting  him  to  shoe-sole-shreds  ?     1  think. 

He  ruled  his  life-long  and,  when  time  was  ripe. 

Died  fighting  for  amusement, — good  tough  hide  ! 

Sokrates  still  goes  up  and  down  the  streets 


And  Aristullos  puts  his  speech  in  book, 
When  both  should  be  abohshed  long  ago. 
Nay,  wretchedest  of  rags,  Ariphrades — 
You  have  been  fouling  that  redoubtable 
Harp-player,  twenty  years,  with  what  effect  ? 
Still  he  strums  on,  strums  ever  cheerily, 
And  earns  his  wage, — who  minds  a  joke  ?  men  say. 
No,  friend  !     The  statues  stand — mudstained  at  most- 
Titan  or  pygmy  :  what  achieves  their  fall 
Will  be,  long  after  mud  is  flung  and  spent. 
Some  clear  thin  spirit-thrust  of  lightning — truth  ! 

Your  praise,  then — honey-smearing  helps  your  friend. 

More  than  blame's  ordure-smirch  hurts  foe,  perhaps  ? 

Peace,  now,  misunderstood,  ne'er  prized  enough. 

You  have  interpreted  to  ignorance 

Till  ignorance  opes  eye,  bat-blind  before. 

And  for  the  first  time  knows  Peace  means  the  power 


On  maw  of  pan- cake,  cheese-cake,  barley-cake, 
No  stop  nor  stint  to  stuffing.     AVhile,  in  camp, 
Who  fights  chews  rancid  tunny,  onions  raw, 
Peace  sits  at  cosy  feast  with  lamp  and  fire, 
Complaisant    smooth-sleeked    flute-girls    giggling 

How  thick  and  fast  the  snow  falls,  freezing  War 
Who  shrugs,  campaigns  it,  and  may  break  a  shin 
Or  twist  an  ankle  !  come,  who  hesitates 
To  give  Peace,  over  War,  the  preference  ? 
Ah,  friend — had  this  indubitable  fact 
Haply  occurred  to  poor  Leonidas, 
How  had  he  turned  tail  on  Thermopulai  ! 
It  cannot  be  that  even  his  few  wits 
Were  addled  to  the  point  that,  so  advised. 
Preposterous  he  had  answered — "  Cakes  are  prime. 
Hearth-sides   are   snug,   sleek    dancing-girls    have 



And  yet — for  country's  sake,  to  save  our  gods 

Their  temples,  save  our  ancestors  their  tombs. 

Save  wife  and  child  and  home  and  liberty, — 

I  would  chew  sliced-salt-fish,  bear  snow — nay,  starve, 

If  need  were,— and  by  much  prefer  the  choice  !  " 

Why,  friend,  your  genuine  hero,  all  the  while. 

Has  been — who  served  precisely  for  your  butt — 

Kleonumos  that,  wise,  cast  shield  away 

On  battle-ground  ;  cried  "  Cake  my  buckler  be, 

Embossed  with  cream-clot  !  peace,  not  war,  I  choose. 

Holding  with  Dikaiopolis  !  "  Comedy 

Shall  triumph,  Dikaiopolis  win  assent, 

When  next  Miltiades  shirks  Marathon, 

Themistokles  swaps  Salamis  for — cake, 

And  Kimon  grunts  "  Peace,  grant  me  dancing-girls  !  " 

But  sooner,  hardly  !  twenty-five  years  since, 

The  war  began, — such  pleas  for  Peace  have  reached 

A  reasonable  age.     The  end  shows  all ! 


And  so  with  all  the  rest  you  advocate  ! 
"Wise  folk  leave  litigation  !  ware  the  wasps  ! 
Who  loves  the  law  and  lawyers,  heliast-like, 
Wants  hemlock  !  "     None  shows  that  so  funnily. 
But,  once  cure  madness,  how  comports  himself 
Your  sane  exemplar,  what's  our  gain  thereby  ? 
Philokleon  turns  Bdelukleon  !  just  this  change, — 
New  sanity  gets  straightway  drunk  as  sow, 
Cheats  baker-wives,  brawls,  kicks,  cuffs,  curses  folk, 
Parades  a  shameless  flute-girl,  bandies  filth 
With  his  own  son  who  cured  his  father's  cold 
By  making  him  catch  fever — funnily  ! 
But  as  for  curing  love  of  law-suits — faugh  ! 

And  how  does  new  improve  upon  the  old 
— Your  boast — in  even  abusing  ?     Rough,  may  be — 
Still,  honest  was  the  old  mode.     "  Call  thief— thief  !  " 
But  never  call — thief  even — murderer  ! 


Much  less  call  fop  and  fribble,  worse  one  whit 

Than  fribble  and  fop  !     Spare  neither  !  beat  your  brains 

For  adequate  invective, — cut  the  life 

Clean  out  each  quality, — but  load  your  lash 

With  no  least  lie,  or  we  pluck  scourge  from  hand  ! 

Does  poet  want  a  whipping,  write  bad  verse, 

Inculcate  foul  deeds  ?     There's  the  fault  to  flog  ! 

You  vow  "  The  rascal  cannot  read  nor  write, 

Spends  more  in  buying  fish  than  Morsimos, 

Somebody  helps  his  Muse  and  courts  his  wife, 

His  uncle  deals  in  crockery,  and  last, — 

Himself 's  a  stranger  !  "     That's  the  cap  and  crown 

Of  stinging-nettle,  that's  the  master-stroke  ! 

What  poet-rival, — after  "  housebreaker," 

"  Fish-gorging,"  "  midnight  footpad  "  and  so  forth, — 

Proves  not,  beside,  "  a  stranger?"  Chased  from  charge 

To  charge,  and,  lie  by  lie,  laughed  out  of  court, — 

Lo,  wit's  sure  refuge,  satire's  grand  resource — 


All,  from  Kratinos  downward—"  strangers  "  they  ! 

Pity  the  trick 's  too  facile  !  None  so  raw 

Among  your  playmates  but  have  caught  the  ball 

And  sent  it  back  as  briskly  to — yourself  ! 

You  too,  my  Attic,  are  styled  •'  stranger" — Rhodes, 

Aigina,  Lindos  or  Kameiros, — nay, 

'Twas  Egypt  reared   if  Eupolis  be  right) 

Who  wrote  the  comedy  (Kratinos  vows) 

Kratinos  helped  a  little  !  Kleon's  self 

Was  nigh  promoted  Comic,  when  he  haled 

My  poet  into  court,  and  o'er  the  coals 

Hauled  and  re-hauled   "  the  stranger, — insolent. 

Who  brought  out  plays,  usurped  our  privilege  !  " 

Why  must  you  Comics  one  and  all  take  stand 

On  lower  ground  than  truth  from  first  to  last  ? 

Why  all  agree  to  let  folks  disbelieve. 

So  laughter  but  reward  a  funny  lie  ? 

Repel  such  onslaughts — answer,  sad  and  grave, 


Your  fancy-fleerings — who  would  stoop  so  low  ? 

Your  own  adherents  whisper, — when  disgust 

Too  menacingly  thrills  Logeion  through 

At — Perikles  invents  this  present  war 

Because  men  robbed  his  mistress  of  three  maids — 

Or — Sokrates  wants  burning,  house  o'er  head, — 

"  What,  so  obtuse,  not  read  between  the  lines  ? 

Our  poet  means  no  mischief!     All  should  know — 

Ribaldry  here  implies  a  compliment  I 

He  deals  with  things,  not  men, — his  men  are  things — 

Each  represents  a  class,  plays  figure-head 

And  names  the  ship  :  no  meaner  than  the  first 

Would  serve  ;  he  styles  a  trireme  '  Sokrates ' — 

Fears  'Sokrates  '-may  prove  unseaworthy, 

(That's  merely — '  Sophists  are  the  bane  of  boys ') 

Rat- riddled  ('they  are  capable  of  theft') 

Rotten  or  whatsoe'er  shows  ship-disease, 

('They  war  with  gods  and  worship  whirligig.') 


You  never  took  the  joke  for  earnest  ?  scarce 
Supposed  mere  figure-head  meant  entire  ship, 
And  Sokrates — the  whole  fraternity  ?  " 

"  This  then  is  Comedy,  our  sacred  song, 
Censor  of  vice,  and  virtue's  guard  as  sure  : 
Manners-instructing,  morals'  stop-estray. 
Which,  born  a  twin  with  public  liberty. 
Thrives  with  its  welfare,  dmndles  with  its  wane  I 
Liberty  ?  what  so  exquisitely  framed 
And  fitted  to  suck  dry  its  life  of  life 
To  last  faint  fibre? — since  that  life  is  truth  ! 
You  who  profess  your  indignation  swells 
At  sophistry,  when  specious  words  confuse 
Deeds  right  and  wrong,  distinct  before,  you  say — 
(Though  all  that's  done  is — dare  veracity, 
Show  that  the  true  conception  of  each  deed 
Affirmed,  in  vulgar  parlance,  "  wrong  "  or  "  right," 


Proves  to  be  neither,  as  the  hasty  hold, 

But,  change  your  side,  shoots  Hght,  where  dark  alone 

Was  apprehended  by  the  vulgar  sense) 

You  who  put  sophistry  to  shame,  and  shout 

"  There's  but  a  single  side  to  man  and  thing ; 

A  side  so  much  more  big  than  thing  or  man 

Possibly  can  be,  that — believe  'tis  true  ? 

Such  were  too  marvelous  simplicity  !  " — 

Confess,  those  sophists  whom  yourself  depict, 

( — Abide  by  your  own  painting  !)  what  they  teach, 

They  wish  at  least  their  pupil  to  believe. 

And,  what  believe,  to  practise  !  did  you  wish 

Hellas  should  haste,  as  taught,  with  torch  in  hand, 

And  fire  the  horrid  Speculation-shop  ? 

Straight  the  shop's  master  rose  and  showed  the  mob 

What  man  was  your  so  monstrous  Sokrates ; 

Himself  received  amusement,  why  not  they  ? 

Just  as  did  Kleon  first  play  magistrate 


And  bid  you  put  your  birth  in  evidence — 
Since  no  unbadged  buffoon  is  licensed  here 
To  shame  us  all  when  foreign  guests  may  mock — 
Then, — birth  established,  fooling  licensed  you, — 
He,  duty  done,  resumed  mere  auditor, 
Laughed  with  the  loudest  at  his  Lamia-shape, 
Kukloboros-roaring,  and  the  camel-rest. 
Nay,  Aristullos, — once  your  volley  spent 
On  the  male-Kirkc  and  her  swinish  crew, — 
Platon, — so  others  call  the  youth  we  love, — 
Sends  your  performance  to  the  curious  king — 
"  Do  you  desire  to  know  Athenai's  knack 
At  turning  seriousness  to  pleasantry  ? 
Read  this  !     One  Aristullos  means  myself. 
The  author  is  indeed  a  merry  grig ,!  " 
Nay,  it  would  seem  as  if  yourself  were  bent 
On  laying  down  the  law  "  Tell  lies  I  must — 
Aforethought  and  of  purpose,  no  mistake  !  " 
o  2 


When  forth  yourself  step,  tell  us  from  the  stage 

"  Here  you  behold  the  King  of  Comedy — - 

Me,  who,  the  first,  have  purged  my  every  piece 

From  each  and  all  my  predecessors'  filth. 

Abjured  those  satyr-adjuncts  sewn  to  bid 

The  boys  laugh,  satyr-jokes  whereof  not  one 

Least  sample  but  would  make  my  hair  turn  grey 

Beyond  a  twelvemonth's  ravage  !     I  renounce 

Mountebank-claptrap,  such  as  firework-fizz 

And  torchflare,  or  else  nuts  and  barleycorns 

Scattered  among  the  crowd,  to  scramble  for 

And  stop  their  mouths  with ;  no  such  stuff  shames  me  ! 

Who, — what's  more  serious, — know  both  when  to  strike 

And  when  to  stay  my  hand  :  once  dead,  my  foe, 

Why,  done,  my  fighting  !  /  attack  a  corpse  ? 

I  spare  the  corpse-like  even  !  punish  age  ? 

I  pity  from  my  soul  that  sad  effete 

Toothless  old  mumbler  called  Kratinos  !  once 


My  rival, — now,  alack,  the  dotard  slinks 
Ragged  and  hungry  to  what  hole's  his  home ; 
Ay,  slinks  thro'  byways  where  no  passenger 
Flings  him  a  bone,  to  pick.     You  formerly 
Adored  the  Muses'  darling  :  dotard  now. 
Why,  he  may  starve !  O  mob  most  mutable  !  " 
So  you  harangued  in  person  ;  while, — to  point 
Precisely  out,  these  were  but  lies  you  launched, — 
Prompt,  a  play  followed  primed  with  satyr-frisks. 
No  spice  spared  of  the  stomach-turning  stew, 
Full-fraught  with  torch-display,  and  barley-throw, 
And  Kleon,  dead  enough,  bedaubed  afresh  ; 
While  daft  Kratinos — home  to  hole  trudged  he, 
Wrung  dry  his  wit  to  the  last  vinous  dregs, 
Decanted  them  to  "  Bottle," — beat,  next  year, — 
"  Bottle  "   and   dregs — your   best   of    "  Clouds "   and 

dew  ! 
Where,  Comic  King,  may  keenest  eye  detect 


Improvement  on  your  predecessors'  work 
Except  in  lying  with  audacity  ? 

Why — genius  !     That's  the  grandeur,  that's  the  gold — 

T\v2iC%  you — superlatively  true  to  touch — 

Gold,  leaf  or  lump — gold,  an)  how  the  mass 

Take  manufacture  and  prove  Pallas'  casque 

Or,  as  your  choice  falls,  simply  cask  to  keep 

Corruption  from  decay  !     Your  rivals'  hoard 

May  ooze  forth,  lacking  such  preservative : 

Yours  cannot — gold  plays  guardian  far  too  well  ! 

Genius,  I  call  yon  :  dross,  your  rivals  share  ; 

Ay,  share  and  share  alike,  too !   says  the  world, 

However  you  pretend  supremacy 

In  aught  beside  that  gold,  your  very  own. 

Satire  ?  "  Kratinos  for  our  satirist  !  " 

The  world  cries.     Elegance?    "Who  elegant 

As  Eupolis?"  resounds  as  noisily. 


Artistic  fiincy  ?     Choros-creatures  quaint  ? 

Magnes  invented  ''  Birds  "  and  "  Frogs  "  enough, 

Archippos  punned,  Hegemon  parodied, 

To  heart's  content,  before  you  stepped  on  stage. 

Moral  invective  ?     Eupolis  exposed 

"  That  prating  beggar,  he  who  stole  the  cup," 

Before  your  '  Clouds '  rained  grime  on  Sokrates  ; 

Nay,  what  beat  "Clouds"  but  "  Konnos,"  muck  for  mud? 

Courage  ?     How  long  before,  well-masked,  you  poured 

Abuse  on  Eukrates  and  Lusikles, 

Did  Telekleides  and  Hermippos  pelt 

Their  Perikles  and  Kumon  ?  standing  forth. 

Bare-headed,  not  safe  crouched  behind  a  name, — 

Philonides  or  else  Kallistratos, 

Put  forth,  when  danger  threatened, — mask  for  face, 

To  bear  the  brunt, — if  blame  fell,  take  the  blame, — 

If  praise  .  .  .  why,  frank  laughed  Aristophanes 

"They  \vrite  such  rare  stuft"?  No,  I  promise  you  !" 


Rather,  I  see  all  true  improvements,  made 

Or  making,  go  against  you — tooth  and  nail 

Contended  with ;  'tis  still  Moruchides, 

'Tis  Euthumenes,  Surakosios,  nay, 

Argurrhios  and  Kinesias, — common  sense 

And  public. shame,  these  only  cleanse  your  stye  ! 

Coerced,  prohibited, — you  grin  and  bear, 

And,  soon  as  may  be,  hug  to  heart  again 

The  banished  nastiness  too  dear  to  drop  ! 

Krates  could  teach  and  practice  festive  song 

Yet  scorn  scurrility ;  as  gay  and  good, 

Pherekrates  could  follow.      Who  loosed  hold. 

Must  let  fall  rose-wreath,  stoop  to  muck  once  more  ? 

Did  your  particular  self  advance  in  aught. 

Task  the  sad  genius — steady  slave  the  while — 

To  further — say,  the  patriotic  aim  ? 

No,  there's  deterioration  manifest 

Year  by  year,  play  by  play  !  survey  them  all, 


From  that  boy's-triumph  when  "  Acharnes  "  dawned, 

To  "  Thesmophoriazousai, ' — this  man's-shame  ! 

There,  truly,  patriot  zeal  so  prominent 

Allowed  friends'  plea  perhaps  :  the  baser  stuff 

Was  but  the  nobler  spirit's  vehicle. 

Who  would  imprison,  unvolatilize 

A  violet's  perfume,  blends  with  fatty  oils 

Essence  too  fugitive  in  Hower  alone ; 

So,  calling  unguent — violet,  call  the  play — 

Obscenity  impregnated  with  "  Peace"  ! 

But  here's  the  boy  grown  bald,  and  here's  the  play 

With  twenty  years'  experience  :  where's  one  spice 

Of  odour  in  ihe  hogs'-lard  ?  what  pretends 

To  aught  except  a  grease-pot's  quality  ? 

Friend,  sophist-hating  !  know, — worst  sophistry 

Is  when  man's  own  soul  plays  its  own  self  false, 

Reasons  a  vice  into  a  virtue,  pleads 

"I  detail  sin  to  shame  its  author" — not 


"  I  shame  Ariphrades  for  sin's  display"  ! 

"  I  show  Oporia  to  commend  Sweet  Home  " — 

Not  "  I  show  Bacchis  for  the  striplings'  sake  ! " 

Yet  all  the  same — O  genius  and  0  gold — 
Had  genius  ne'er  diverted  gold  from  use 
Worthy  the  temple,  to  do  copper's  work 
And  coat  a  swine's  trough — which  abundantly 
Might  furnish  Phoibos'  tripod,  Pallas'  throne  ! 
Had  you,  I  dream,  discarding  all  the  base. 
The  brutish,  spumed  alone  convention's  watch 
And  ward  against  invading  decency, 
Disguised  as  license,  law  in  lawlessness, 
And  so,  re-ordinating  outworn  rule, 
Made  Comedy  and  Tragedy  coml)ine, 
Prove  some  new  Both-yet-neither,  all  one  bard, 
Euripides  with  Aristophanes 
Cooperant !  this,  reproducing  Now 


As  that  gave  Then  existence  :  Life  to-day, 
This,  as  that  other— Life  dead  long  ago  ! 
The  mol:»  decrees  such  feat  no  crown,  perchance, 
But — why  call  crowning  the  reward  of  quest? 
Tell  him,  my  other  poet, — where  thou  walk'st 
Some  rarer  world  than  e'er  Ilissos  washed  ! 

But  dream  goes  idly  in  the  air.     To  earth  ! 
Earth's  question  just  amounts  to — which  succeeds, 
Which  fails  of  two  life-long  antagonists? 
Suppose  my  charges  all  mistake  !  assume 
Your  end,  despite  ambiguous  means,  the  best — 
The  only  !  you  and  he,  a  patriot-pair. 
Have  striven  alike  for  one  result — say.  Peace  ! 
You  spoke  your  best  straight  to  the  arbiters — 
Our  people :  have  you  made  them  end  this  war 
By  dint  of  laughter  and  abuse  and  lies 
And  postures  of  Oporia  ?     Sadly — No  ! 


This  war,  desj^ite  your  twenty-five  years'  work, 

May  yet  endure  until  Athenai  falls, 

And  freedom  falls  with  her.     So  much  for  you  ! 

Now,  the  antagonist  Euripides — 

Has  he  succeeded  better  ?     Who  shall  say  ? 

He  spoke  quite  o'er  the  heads  of  Kleon's  crowd 

To  a  dim  futia-e,  and  if  there  he  fail, 

Why,  you  are  fellows  in  adversity. 

But  that's  unlike  the  fate  of  wise  words  launched 

By  music  on  their  voyage.     Hail,  Depart, 

Arrive,  Glad  Welcome  !     Not  my  single  wish — 

Yours  also  wafts  the  white  sail  on  its  way. 

Your  nature  too  is  kingly.     All  beside 

I  call  pretension — no  true  potentate, 

Whatever  intermediary  be  crowned, 

Zeus  or  Poseidon,  where  the  vulgar  sky 

Lacks  not  Triballos  to  complete  the  group. 

1  recognize, — behind  such  phantom-crew, — 


Necessity,  Creation,  Poet's  Power, 

Else  never  had  I  dared  approach,  appeal 

To  poetry,  power,  Aristophanes  ! 

But  I  trust  truth's  inherent  kingliness. 

Trust  who,  by  reason  of  much  truth,  shall  reign 

More  or  less  royally — may  prayer  but  push 

His  sway  past  limit,  purge  the  false  from  true  ! 

Nor,  even  so,  had  boldness  nerved  my  tongue 

But  that  the  other  king  stands  suddenly, 

In  all  the  grand  investiture  of  death, 

Bowing  your  knee  beside  my  lowly  head — 

Equals  one  moment  ! 

Now,  arise  and  go  ! 
Both  have  done  homage  to  Euripides  !  " 

Silence  pursued  the  words  :  till  he  broke  out — 

"  Scarce  so  !  This  constitutes,  I  may  believe, 


Sufficient  homage  done  by  who  defames 
Your  poet's  foe,  since  you  account  me  such  ; 
But  homage-proper, — pay  it  by  defence 
Of  him,  direct  defence  and  not  obUque, 
Not  by  mere  mild  admonishment  of  me  ! " 

"  Defence  ?     The  best,  the  only  I  "  I  replied. 
"  A  story  goes — When  Sophokles,  last  year, 
Cited  before  tribunal  by  his  son 
(A  poet — to  complete  the  parallel) 
Was  certified  unsound  of  intellect, 
And  claimed  as  only  fit  for  tutelage, 
Since  old  and  doating  and  incompetent 
To  carry  on  this  world's  work, — the  defence 
Consisted  just  in  his  reciting  (calm 
As  the  verse  bore,  which  sets  our  heart  a-swell 
And  voice  a-heaving  too  tempestuously) 
That  choros-chant  "  The  station  of  the  steed, 


Stranger !  thou  comest  to, — Kolonos  white  !  " 

Then  he  looked  round  and  all  revolt  was  dead. 

You  know^  the  one  adventure  of  my  life — 

What  made  Euripides  Balaustion's  friend. 

When  I  last  saw  him,  as  he  bade  farewell, 

"  I  sang  another  '  Herakles,'  "  smiled  he  ; 

"  It  gained  no  prize  :  your  love  be  prize  I  gain  I 

Take  it — the  tablets  also  where  I  traced 

The  story  first  with  stulos  pendent  still — 

Nay,  the  psalterion  may  complete  the  gift, 

So,  should  you  croon  the  ode  bewailing  xVge, 

Yourself  shall  modulate — same  notes,  same  strings — 

With  the  old  friend  who  loved  Balaustion  once." 

There  they  lie  !    W' lien  you  broke  our  solitude. 

We  were  about  to  honor  him  once  more 

By  reading  the  consummate  Tragedy. 

Night  is  advanced  ;  I  have  small  mind  to  sleep  ; 

May  I  go  on,  and  read, — so  make  defence, 


So  test  true  godship  ?     You  affirm,  not  I, 

— Beating  the  god,  affords  such  test :  /  hold 

That  when  rash  hands  but  touch  divinity, 

The  chains  drop  off,  the  prison-walls  dispart, 

And — fire — he  fronts  mad  Pentheus  !     Dare  we  try? 

Accordingly  I  read  the  perfect  piece. 



Zeus'  Couchmatc, — who  of  mortals  knows  not  me, 
Argive  Amphitruon  whom  Alkaios  sired 
Of  old,  as  Perseus  him,  I — Herakles  ? 
My  home,  this  Thebai  where  the  earth-born  spike 
Of  Sown-ones  burgeoned  :  Ares  saved  from  these 
A  handful  of  their  seed  that  stocks  to-day 
With  children's  children  Thebai,  Kadmos  built. 
Of  these  had  Kreon  birth,  Menoikeus'  child, 
King  of  the  country, — Kreon  that  became 


The  father  of  this  woman,  Megara, 

Whom,  when  time  was,  Kadmeians  one  and  all 

Pealed  praise  to,  marriage-songs  with  fluted  help, 

While  to  my  dwelling  that  grand  Herakles 

Bore  her,  his  bride.     But,  leaving  Thebes — where  I 

Abode  perforce — this  Megara  and  those 

Her  kinsmen,  the  desire  possessed  my  son 

Rather  to  dwell  in  Argos,  that  walled  work, 

Kuklopian  city,  which  I  fly,  myself, 

Because  I  slew  Elektruon.    .Seeking  so 

To  ease  away  my  hardships  and  once  more 

Inhabit  his  own  land,  for  my  return 

Heavy  the  price  he  pays  Eurustheus  there — 

The  letting  in  of  light  on  this  choaked  world  ! 

Either  he  promised,  vanquished  by  the  goad 

Of  Here,  or  because  fate  willed  it  thus. 

The  other  labours — why,  he  toiled  them  through  ; 

But  for  this  last  one — down  by  Tainaros, 


Its  mouth,  to  Haides'  realm  descended  he 
To  drag  into  the  light  the  three-shaped  hound 
Of  Hell :  whence  Herakles  returns  no  more. 
Now,  there's  an  old-world  tale,  Kadmeians  have, 
How  Dirkc's  husband  was  a  Lukos  once, 
Holding  the  seven-towered  city  here  in  sway 
Before  they  ruled  the  land,  white-steeded  p'.iir, 
Amphion,  Zethos,  born  to  Zeus  the  twins. 
This  Lukos'  son, — named  like  his  father  too, 
No  born  Kadmeian  but  Euboia's  gift, — 
Comes  and  kills  Kreon,  lords  it  o'er  the  land, 
Falling  upon  our  town  sedition-sick. 
To  us,  akin  to  Kreon,  just  that  bond 
Becomes  the  worst  of  evils,  seemingly  ; 
For,  since  my  son  is  in  the  earth's  abysms. 
This  man  of  valour,  Lukos,  lord  and  king, 
Seeks  now  to  slay  these  sons  of  Herakles, 
And  slay  his  wife  as  well, — by  murder  thus 



Thinking  to  stamp  out  murder, — slay  too  me, 

(If  me  'tis  fit  you  count  among  men  still, — 

Useless  old  age)  and  all  for  fear  lest  these, 

Grown  men  one  day,  exact  due  punishment 

Of  bloodshed  and  their  mother's  father's  fate. 

I  therefore,  since  he  leaves  me  in  these  domes^ 

The  children's  household  guardian,— left,  when  earth's 

Dark  dread  he  underwent,  that  son  of  mine, — 

I,  with  their  mother,  lest  his  boys  should  die, 

Sit  at  this  altar  of  the  saviour  Zeus 

Which,  glory  of  triumphant  spear,  he  raised 

Conquering — my  nobly-born  ! — the  Minuai. 

Here  do  we  guard  our  station,  destitute 

Of  all  things,  drink,  food,  raiment,  on  bare  ground 

Couched  side  by  side  :  sealed  out  of  house  and  home 

Sit  we  in  a  resourcelessness  of  help. 

Our  friends — why,  some  are  no  true  friends,  I  see  ! 

The  rest,  that  are  true,  want  the  means  to  aid. 


So  operates  in  man  adversity  : 

Whereof  may  never  anybody — no, 

Though  half  of  him  should  really  wish  me  well,-^ 

Happen  to  taste  !  a  friend-test  feultless,  that ! 


Old  man,  who  erst  didst  raze  the  Taphian  town, 
Illustriously,  the  army-leader,  thou. 
Of  speared  Kadmeians— how  gods  play  men  false  ! 
I,  now,  missed  nowise  fortune  in  my  sire, 
Who,  for  his  wealth,  was  boasted  mighty  once, 
Having  supreme  rule, — for  the  love  of  which 
Leap  the  long  lances  forth  at  favoured  breasts, — 
And  having  children  too  :  and  me  he  gave 
Thy  son,  his  house  with  that  of  Herakles 
Uniting  by  the  far-famed  marriage-bed. 
And  now  these  things  are  dead  and  flown  away, 
While  thou  and  I  await  our  death,  old  man, 


These  Herakleian  boys  too,  whom — my  cliicks— 

I  save  beneath  my  wings  like  brooding  bird. 

But  one  or  other  falls  to  questioning 

"  O  mother,"  cries  he  "  where  in  all  the  world 

Is  father  gone  to?     What's  he  doing?  when 

Will  he  come  back  ?  "     At  fault  through  tender  years, 

They  seek  their  sire.     For  me,  I  put  them  off. 

Telling  them  stories  ;  at  each  creak  of  door. 

All  wonder  "  Does  he  come  ?  " — and  all  a-foot 

Make  for  the  fall  before  the  parent  knee. 

Now  then,  what  hope,  what  method  of  escape 

Facilitatest  thou  ? — for,  thee,  old  man, 

I  look  to, — since  we  may  not  leave  by  stealth 

The  limits  of  the  land,  and  guards,  more  strong 

Than  we,  are  at  the  outlets  :  nor  in  friends 

Remain  to  us  the  hopes  of  safety  more. 

Therefore,  whatever  thy  decision  be, 

Impart  it  for  the  common  good  of  all  ! 


Lest  now  should  prove  the  proper  time  to  die, 
Though,  being  weak,  we  spin  it  out  and  live. 


Daughter,  it  scarce  is  easy,  do  one's  best, 
To  blurt  out  counsel,  things  at  such  a  pass. 


You  want  some  sorrow  more,  or  so  love  life  ? 


I  both  enjoy  life,  and  love  hopes  beside. 


And  I  ;  but  hope  against  hope— no,  old  man  ! 


In  these  delayings  of  an  ill  lurks  cure. 


But  bitter  is  the  meantime,  and  it  bites. 


O  there  may  be  a  run  before  the  wind 
From  out  these  present  ills,  for  me  and  thee, 
Daughter,  and  yet  may  come  my  son,  thy  spouse  ! 
But  hush  !  and  from  the  children  take  away 
Their  founts  a-flow  with  tears,  and  talk  them  calm, 
Steal  them  by  stories — sad  theft,  all  the  same  ! 
For,  human  troubles — they  grow  weary  too  ; 
Neither  the  wind-blasts  always  have  their  strength, 
Nor  happy  men  keep  happy  to  the  end  : 
Since  all  things  change — their  natures  part  in  twain  ; 
And  that  man's  bravest,  therefore,  who  hopes  on, 
Hopes  ever :  to  despair  is  cowardly. 



These  domes  that  overroof, 
This  long-used  couch,  I  come  to,  having  made 
A  stalif  my  prop,  that  song  may  put  to  proof 
The  swan-hke  power,  age-whitened, — poet's  aid 
Of  sobbed-forth  dirges — words  that  stand  aloof 
From  action  now  :  such  am  I — just  a  shade 
With  night  for  all  its  face,  a  mere  night-dream — 
And  words  that  tremble  too  :  howe'er  they  seem, 
Devoted  words,  I  deem. 

O,  of  a  father  ye  unflithered  ones, 

O  thou  old  man,  and  thou  whose  groaning  stuns — 

Unhappy  mother — only  us  above. 

Nor  reaches  him  below  in  Haides'  realm,  thy  love 

— (Faint  not  too  soon,  urge  forward  foot  and  limb 

Way-weary,  nor  lose  courage — as  some  horse 


Yoked  to  tlie  car  whose  weight  recoils  on  him 

Just  at  the  rock-ridge  that  concludes  his  course  ! 

Take  by  the  hand,  the  peplos,  any  one 

Whose  foothold  fails  him,  printless  and  fordone  ! 

Aged,  assist  along  me  aged  too, 

Who, — mate  with  thee  in  toils  when  life  was  new, 

And  shields  and  spears  first  made  acquaintanceship, — 

Stood  by  thyself  and  proved  no  bastard-slip 

Of  fatherland  when  loftiest  glory  grew.) — 

See  now,  how  like  the  sire's 

Each  eyeball  fiercely  fires  ! 

What  though  ill-fortune  have  not  left  his  race  ? 

Neither  is  gone  the  grand  paternal  grace  ! 

Hellas  !     O  what — what  combatants,  destroyed 

In  these,  wilt  thou  one  day  seek — seek,  and  find  all  void 

Pause  !  for  I  see  the  ruler  of  this  land, 
Lukos,  now  passing  through  the  palace-gate. 



The  Herakleian  couple — father,  wife — 

If  needs  I  must,  I  question  :  "must"  forsooth? 

Being  your  master — all  I  please,  I  ask. 

To  what  time  do  you  seek  to  spin  out  life  ? 

What  hope,  what  help  see,  so  as  not  to  die  ? 

Is  it  you  trust  the  sire  of  these,  that's  sunk 

In  Haides,  will  return  ?     How  past  the  pitch, 

Suppose  you  have  to  die,  you  pile  the  woe — 

Thou,  casting,  Hellas  through,  thy  empty  vaunts 

As  though  Zeus  helped  thee  to  a  god  for  son  ; 

And  thou,  that  thou  wast  styled  our  best  man's  wife  ! 

\Miere  was  the  awful  in  his  work  wound  up. 

If  he  (lid  quell  and  quench  the  marshy  snake 

Or  the  Nemeian  monster  whom  he  snared 

And — says,  by  throttlings  of  his  arm,  he  slew  ? 

With  these  do  you  outwrestle  me  ?     Such  feats 


Shall  save  from  death  the  sons  of  Herakles 

Who  got  praise,  being  nought,  for  bravery 

In  wild-beast-battle,  otherwise  a  blank  ? 

No  man  to  throw  on  left  arm  buckler's  weight, 

Not  he,  nor  get  in  spear's  reach  !  bow  he  bore — 

True  coward's-weapon  :  shoot  first  and  then  fly  ! 

No  bow-and-arrow  proves  a  man  is  brave, 

But  who  keeps  rank, — stands,  one  unwinking  stare 

As,  ploughing  up,  the  darts  come, — brave  is  he. 

My  action  has  no  impudence,  old  man  ! 

Providence,  rather  :  for  I  own  I  slew 

Kreon,  this  woman's  sire,  and  have  his  seat. 

Nowise  I  wish,  then,  to  leave,  these  grown  up, 

Avengers  on  me,  payment  for  my  deeds. 


As  to  the  part  of  Zeus  in  his  own  child, 
Let  Zeus  defend  that !     As  to  mine,  'tis  me 


The  care  concerns  to  show  by  argument 

The  folly  of  this  fellow,— Herakles, 

Whom  I  stand  up  for  !  since  to  hear  thee  styled 

Cowardly — that  is  unendurable. 

First  then,  the  infamous  (for  I  account 

Amongst  the  words  denied  to  human  speech, 

Timidity  ascribed  thee,  Herakles  !) 

This  I  must  put  from  thee,  with  gods  in  proof. 

Zeus'  thunder  I  appeal  to,  those  four  steeds 

Whereof  he  also  was  the  charioteer 

^Vllen,  having  shot  down  the  earth's  Giant-growth — 

(Never  shaft  flew  but  found  and  fitted  flank) 

Triumph  he  sang  in  common  with  the  gods. 

The  Kentaur-race,  four-footed  insolence — 

Go  ask  at  Pholoe',  vilest  thou  of  kings, 

Whom  they  would  pick  out  and  pronounce  best  man, 

If  not  my  son,  "  the  seeming-brave,"  say'st  thou  ! 

But  Dirphus,  tliy  Abantid  mother-town, 


Question  her,  and  she  would  not  praise,  I  think  ! 

For  there's  no  spot,  where  having  done  some  good, 

Thy  country  thou  mightst  call  to  witness  worth. 

Now,  that  allwise  invention,  archer's-gear. 

Thou  blamest  :  hear  my  teaching  and  grow  sage  ! 

A  man  in  armour  is  his  armour's  slave, 

And,  mixed  with  rank  and  file  that  want  to  run, 

He  dies  because  his  neighbours  have  lost  heart. 

Then,  should  he  break  his  spear,  no  way  remains 

Of  warding  death  off, — gone  that  body-guard, 

His  one  and  only  ;  while,  whatever  folk 

Have  the  true  bow-hand, — here's  the  one  main  good,- 

Though  he  have  sent  ten  thousand  shafts  abroad, 

Others  remain  wherewith  the  archer  saves 

His  limbs  and  life,  too, — stands  afar  and  wards 

Away  from  flesh  the  foe  that  vainly  stares 

Hurt  by  the  viewless  arrow,  while  himself 

Offers  no  full  front  to  those  opposite. 


But  keeps  in  thorough  cover  :  there's  llie  point 

That's  capital  in  combat — damage  foe, 

Yet  keep  a  safe  skin — foe  not  out  of  reach 

As  you  are  !     Thus  my  words  contrast  with  thine, 

And  such,  in  judging  facts,  our  difference. 

These  children,  now,  why  dost  thou  seek  to  slay? 

What  have  they  done  thee  ?     In  a  single  point 

I  count  thee  wise — if,  being  base  thyself, 

Thou  dreadst  the  progeny  of  nobleness. 

Yet  this  bears  hard  upon  us,  all  the  same, 

If  we  must  die — because  of  fear  in  thee — 

A  death  't  were  fit  thou  suffer  at  our  hands, 

Thy  betters,  did  Zeus  rightly  judge  us  all. 

If  therefore  thou  art  bent  on  sceptre-sway, 

Thyself,  here — suffer  us  to  leave  the  land, 

Fugitives  !  nothing  do  by  violence. 

Or  violence  thyself  shalt  undergo 

When  tl\e  gods'  gale  may  chance  to  change  for  thee 


Alas,  O  land  of  Kadmos, — for  'tis  thee 

I  mean  to  close  with,  dealing  out  the  due 

Revilement, — in  such  sort  dost  thou  defend 

Herakles  and  his  children  ?     Herakles 

Who,  coming,  one  to  all  the  world,  against 

The  Minuai,  fought  them  and  left  Thebes  an  eye 

Unblinded  henceforth  to  front  freedom  with  ! 

Neither  do  I  praise  Hellas,  nor  shall  brook 

Ever  to  keep  in  silence  that  I  count 

Towards  my  son,  craven  of  cravens — her 

Whom  it  behoved  go  bring  the  young  ones  here 

Fire,  spears,  arms — in  exchange  for  seas  made  safe, 

And  cleansings  of  the  land,  his  labour's  price. 

But  fire,  spears,  arms, — O  children,  neither  Thebes 

Nor  Hellas  has  them  for  you  !  'Tis  myself, 

A  feeble  friend,  ye  look  to  :  nothing  now 

But  a  tongue's  murmur,  for  the  strength  is  gone 

We  had  once,  and  with  age  are  limbs  a-shake 


And  force  a-flicker  !     Were  I  only  young, 

Still  with  the  mastery  o'er  bone  and  thew, 

Grasping  first  spear  that  came,  the  yellow  locks 

Of  this  insulter  would  I  bloody  so — 

Should  send  him  skipping  o'er  the  Atlantic  bounds 

Out  of  my  arm's  reach  through  poltroonery  ! 


Have  not  the  really  good  folk  starting-points 

For  speech  to  purpose, — though  rare  talkers  they  ? 


Say  thou  against  us  words  thou  towerest  with  ! 
I,  for  thy  words,  will  deal  tliee  blows,  their  due. 
Go,  some  to  Helikon,  to  Parnasos 
Some,  and  the  clefts  there  !     Bid  the  woodmen  fell 
Oak-tnmks,  and,  when  the  same  are  brought  inside 
The  city,  pile  the  altar  round  with  logs, 


Then  fire  it,  burn  the  bodies  of  them  all, 

That  they  may  learn  thereby,  no  dead  man  rules 

The  land  here,  but  'tis  I,  by  acts  like  these  ! 

As  for  you,  old  sirs,  who  are  set  against 

My  judgments,  you  shall  groan  for— not  alone 

The  Herakleian  children,  but  the  fate 

Of  your  own  house  beside,  when  faring  ill 

By  any  chance  :  and  you  shall  recollect 

Slaves  are  you  of  a  tyranny  that's  mine  ! 


O  progeny  of  earth, — whom  Ares  sowed 
When  he  laid  waste  the  dragon's  greedy  jaw — 
Will  ye  not  lift  the  staves,  right-hand  supports, 
And  bloody  this  man's  irreligious  head? 
Who,  being  no  Kadmeian,  rules, — the  wretch, — 
Our  easy  youth  :  an  interloper  too  ! 
But  not  of  me,  at  least,  shalt  thou  enjoy 


Thy  lordship  ever  ;  nor  my  labour's  fruit, — 
Hand  worked  so  hard  for, — have  !     A  curse  with  thee, 
Whence  thou  didst  come,  there  go  and  tyrannize  ! 
For  ne\er  while  I  live  shalt  thou  destroy 
The  Herakleian  children  :  not  so  deep 
Hides  he  below  ground,  leaving  thee  their  lord  ! 
But  we  bear  both  of  you  in  mind, — that  thou, 
The  land's  destroyer,  dost  possess  the  land. 
While  he  who  saved  it,  loses  every  right. 
/  play  the  busy-body — for  I  serve 
My  dead  friends  when  they  need  friends'  service  most  ? 
O  right-hand,  how  thou  yearnest  to  snatch  spear 
And  serve  indeed  !  in  weakness  dies  the  wish, 
Or  I  had  stayed  thee  calling  me  a  slave. 
And  nobly  drawn  my  breath  at  home  in  Thebes 
Where  thou  exultest  ! — city  that's  insane. 
Sick  through  sedition  and  bad  government, 
Else  never  had  she  gained  for  master — thee  ! 

Q  2 



Old  friends,  I  praise  you  :  since  a  righteous  wrath 
For  friend's  sake  well  becomes  a  friend.     But  no  ! 
On  our  account  in  anger  with  your  lord, 
Suffer  no  injury  !     Hear  my  advice, 
Amphitruon,  if  I  seem  to  speak  aright. 
O  yes,  I  love  my  children  !  how  not  love 
What  I  brought  forth,  what  toiled  for  ?  and  to  die- 
Sad  I  esteem  too  ;  still,  the  fated  way 
Who  stiffens  him  against,  that  man  I  count 
Poor  creature  ;  us,  who  are  of  other  mood. 
Since  we  must  die,  behoves  us  meet  our  death 
Not  burnt  to  cinders,  giving  foes  the  laugh — 
To  me,  worse  ill  than  dying,  that  !  we  owe 
Our  houses  many  a  brave  deed,  now  to  pay. 
Thee,  indeed,  gloriously  men  estimate 
For  spear- work,  so  that  unendurable 


Were  it  that  thou  shouklst  die  a  death  of  shame. 
And  for  my  glorious  husband,  where  wants  he 
A  witness  that  he  would  not  save  his  boys 
If  touched  in  their  good  fame  thereby?  since  birth 
Bears  ill  with  baseness  done  for  children's  sake, 
— My  husband  needs  must  be  my  pattern  here  ! 
See  now  thy  hope — how  much  I  count  thereon  ! 
Thou  thinkest  that  thy  son  will  come  to  light : 
And,  of  the  dead,  who  came  from  H  aides  back  ? 
But  we  with  talk  this  man  might  mollify  : 
Never !  Of  all  foes,  fly  the  foolish  one  ! 
Wise,  well-bred  people,  make  concession  to  ! 
Sooner  you  meet  respect  by  speaking  soft. 
Already  it  was  in  my  mind — perchance 
We  might  beg  off  these  children's  banishment ; 
But  even  that  is  sad — involving  them 
In  safety,  ay — and  piteous  poverty  ! 
Since  the  host's  visage  for  the  flying  friend 


Has,  only  one  day,  the  sweet  look,  'tis  said. 

Dare  with  us  death,  which  waits  thee,  dared  or  no  ! 

We  call  on  thine  ancestral  worth,  old  man  ! 

For  who  out-labours  what  the  gods  appoint, 

Shows  energy,  but  energy  gone  mad. 

Since  what  must — none  e'er  makes  what  must  not  be. 


Had  anyone,  while  yet  my  arms  were  strong, 
Been  scorning  thee,  he  easily  had  ceased. 
But  we  are  nought,  now  ;  thine  henceforth  to  see — 
Amphitruon,  how  to  push  aside  these  fates  ! 


Nor  cowardice  nor  a  desire  of  life 
Stops  me  from  dying :  but  I  seek  to  save 
My  son  his  children.     Vain  !  I  set  my  heart. 
It  seems,  upon  impossibility. 


See,  it  is  ready  for  the  sword,  this  throat 

To  pierce,  divide,  dash  down  from  precipice  ! 

But  one  grace  grant  us,  king,  we  supphcate  ! 

Slay  me  and  this  unhappy  one  before 

The  children,  lest  we  see  them — impious  sight  ! — 

Gasping  the  soul  forth,  calling  all  the  while 

On  mother  and  on  father's  father  !     Else, 

Do  as  thy  heart  inclines  thee  !     No  resource 

Have  we  from  death,  and  we  resign  ourselves. 


And  I  too  supplicate  :  add  grace  to  grace. 

And,  though  but  one  man,  doubly  serve  us  both  ! 

Let  me  bestow  adornment  of  the  dead 

Upon  these  children  !     Throw  the  palace  wide  ! 

For  now  we  are  shut  out.     Thence  these  shall  share 

At  least  so  much  of  wealth,  was  once  their  sire's  ! 



These  things  shall  be.     Withdraw  the  bolts,  I  bid 
My  servants  !     Enter  and  adorn  yourselves  ! 
I  grudge  no  peploi ;  but  when  these  ye  wind 
About  your  bodies, — that  adornment  done, — 
Then  I  shall  come  and  give  you  to  the  grave. 


O  children,  follow  this  unhappy  foot. 
Your  mother's,  into  your  ancestral  home, 
Where  others  have  the  power,  are  lords  in  truth, 
Although  the  empty  name  is  left  us  yet  ! 


O  Zeus,  in  vain  I  had  thee  marriage-mate, 
In  vain  I  called  thee  father  of  my  child  ! 
Thou  wast  less  friendly  far  than  thou  didst  seem. 
I,  the  mere  man,  o'ermatch  in  virtue  thee 


The  mighty  god  :  for  I  have  not  betrayed 
The  Herakleian  children, — whereas  tliou 
Hadst  wit  enough  to  come  clandestinely 
Into  the  chamber,  take  what  no  man  gave. 
Another's  place  ;  and  when  it  comes  to  help 
Thy  loved  ones,  there  thou  lackest  wit  indeed  ' 
Thou  art  some  stupid  god,  or  born  unjust. 


Even  a  dirge,  can  Phoibos  suit 

In  song  to  music  jubilant 

For  all  its  sorrow  :  making  shoot 

His  golden  plectron  o'er  the  lute, 

Melodious  ministrant. 

And  I,  too,  am  of  mind  to  raise, 

Despite  the  imminence  of  doom, 

A  song  of  joy,  outpour  my  praise 

To  him — what  is  it  rumour  says  ? — 


Whether — now  buried  in  the  ghostly  gloom 

Below  ground, — he  was  child  of  Zeus  indeed, 

Or  mere  Amphitruon's  mortal  seed — 

To  him  I  weave  the  wreath  of  song,  his  labour's  meed. 

For,  is  my  hero  perished  in  the  feat? 

The  virtues  of  brave  toils,  in  death  complete, 

These  save  the  dead  in  song, — their  glory-garland  meet ! 

First,  then,  he  made  the  wood 

Of  Zeus  a  solitude. 

Slaying  its  lion-tenant ;  and  he  spread 

The  tawniness  behind — his  yellow  head 

Enmufifled  by  the  brute's,  backed  by  that  grin  of  dread. 

The  mountain-roving  savage  Kentaur-race 

He  strewed  with  deadly  bow  about  their  place. 

Slaying  with  winged  shafts  :  Peneios  knew, 

Beauteously-eddying,  and  the  long  tracts  too 

Of  pasture  trampled  fruitless,  and  as  well 


Those  desolated  haunts  Mount  Pelion  under, 

And,  grassy  up  to  Homole,  each  dell 

Whence,  having  filled  their  hands  with  pine-tree  plunder. 

Horse-like  was  wont  to  prance  from,  and  subdue 

The  land  of  Thessaly,  that  bestial  crew. 

The  golden-headed  spot-back'd  stag  he  slew, 

That  robber  of  the  rustics  :  glorified 

Therewith  the  goddess  who  in  hunter's  pride 

Slaughters  the  game  along  Oinoe's  side. 

And,  yoked  abreast,  he  brought  the  chariot-breed 

To  pace  submissive  to  the  bit,  each  steed 

That  in  the  bloody  cribs  of  Diomede 

Champed  and,  unbridled,  hurried  down  that  gore 

For  grain,  exultant  the  dread  feast  before — 

Of  man's  flesh  :  hideous  feeders  they  of  yore  ! 

All  as  he  crossed  the  Hebros'  silver-flow 

Accomplished  he  such  labour,  toiling  so 

For  Mukenaian  tyrant;  ay,  and  more — 


He  crossed  the  Melian  shore 

And,  by  the  sources  of  Amauros,  shot 

To  death  that  strangers'-pest 

Kuknos,  who  dwelt  in  Amphanaia  :  not 

Of  fame  for  good  to  giiest  ! 

And  next,  to  the  melodious  maids  he  came, 
Inside  the  Hesperian  court-yard  :  hand  must  aim 
At  plucking  gold  fruit  from  the  appled  leaves, 
Now  he  had  killed  the  dragon,  backed  like  flame, 
Who  guards  the  unapproachable  he  weaves 
Himself  all  round,  one  spire  about  the  same. 
And  into  those  sea-troughs  of  ocean  dived 
The  hero,  and  for  mortals  calm  contrived, 
Whatever  oars  should  follow  in  his  wake. 
And  under  heaven's  mid-seat  his  hands  thrust  he. 
At  home  with  Atlas  :  and,  for  valour's  sake, 
Held  the  gods  up  their  star-faced  mansionry. 


Also,  the  rider-host  of  Amazons 

About  Maiotis  many-streamed,  he  went 

To  conquer  through  the  billowy  Euxeine  once, 

Having  collected  what  an  armament 

Of  friends  from  Hellas,  all  on  conquest  bent 

Of  that  gold-garnished  cloak,  dread  girdle-chase  ! 

So  Hellas  gained  the  girl's  barbarian  grace 

And  at  Mukenai  saves  the  trophy  still — 

Go  wonder  there,  who  will ! 

And  the  ten  thousand-headed  hound 

Of  many  a  murder,  the  Ixrnaian  snake 

He  burned  out,  head  by  head,  and  cast  around 

His  darts  a  poison  thence, — darts  soon  to  slak2 

Their  rage  in  that  three-bodied  herdsman's  gore 

Of  Erutheia.     Many  a  running  more 

He  made  for  triumph  and  felicity. 

And,  last  of  toils,  to  Haides,  never  dry 


Of  tears,  he  sailed :  and  there  he,  luckless,  ends 

His  life  completely,  nor  returns  again. 

The  house  and  home  are  desolate  of  friends, 

And  where  the  children's  life-path  leads  them,  plain 

I  see, — no  step  retraceable,  no  god 

Availing,  and  no  law  to  h^lp  the  lost  ! 

The  oar  of  Charon  marks  their  period. 

Waits  to  end  all.     Thy  hands,  these  roofs  accost  ! — 

To  thee,  though  absent,  look  their  uttermost ! 

But  if  in  youth  and  strength  I  flourished  still. 

Still  shook  the  spear  in  fight,  did  power  match  will 

In  these  Kadmeian  co- mates  of  my  age, 

They  would, — and  I, — when  warfare  was  to  wage, 

Stand  by  these  children  ;  but  I  am  bereft 

Of  youth  now,  lone  of  that  good  genius  left ! 

But  hist,  desist !  for  here  come  these, — 


Draped  as  the  dead  go,  under  and  over, — 
Children  long  since, — now  hard  to  discover. — 
Of  the  once  so  potent  Herakles  ! 
And  the  loved  wife  dragging,  in  one  tetlier 
About  her  feet,  the  boys  together  ; 
And  the  hero's  aged  sire  comes  last  ! 
Unhappy  that  I  am  !  Of  tears  which  rise, — 
How  am  I  all  unable  to  hold  fast, 
Longer,  the  aged  fountains  of  these  eyes  ! 


Be  it  so !     Who  is  priest,  who  butcher  here 

Of  these  ill-fated  ones,  or  stops  the  breath 

Of  me,  the  miserable  ?     Ready,  see. 

The  sacrifice — to  lead  where  Haides  lives  1 

O  children,  we  are  led — no  lovely  team 

Of  corpses — age,  youth,  motherhood,  all  mixed  ! 

O  sad  fate  of  myself  and  these  my  sons 


Whom  with  these  eyes  I  look  at,  this  last  time  ! 

I,  indeed,  bore  you  :  but  for  enemies 

I  brought  you  up  to  be  a  laughing-stock, 

Matter  for  merriment,  destruction-stuff  ! 

Woe's  me  ! 

Strangely  indeed  my  hopes  have  struck  me  down 

From  what  I  used  to  hope  about  you  once — 

The  expectation  from  your  father's  talk  ! 

For  thee,  now,  thy  dead  sire  dealt  Argos  to  : 

Thou  wast  to  have  Eurustheus'  house  one  day, 

And  rule  Pelasgia  where  the  fine  fruits  grow  ; 

And,  for  a  stole  of  state,  he  wrapped  about 

Thy  head  with  that  the  lion-monster  bore, 

That  which  himself  went  wearing  armour-wise. 

And  thou  wast  King  of  Thebes — such  chariots  there ! 

Those  plains  I  had  for  portion — all  for  thee, 

As  thou  hadst  coaxed  them  out  of  who  gave  birth 

To  thee,  his  boy  :  and  into  thy  right  hand 


He  thrust  the  guardian-ckib  of  Daidalos, — 

Poor  guardian  proves  the  gift  that  plays  thee  false  ! 

And  upon  thee  he  promised  to  bestow 

Oichalia — what,  with  those  flir-shooting  shafts, 

He  ravaged  once  ;  and  so,  since  three  you  were, 

With  threefold  kingdoms  did  he  build  you  up 

To  very  towers,  your  father, — proud  enough, 

Prognosticating,  from  your  manliness 

In  boyhood,  what  the  manhood's  self  would  be. 

For  my  part,  I  was  picking  out  for  }0U 

Brides,  suiting  each  with  his  alliance — this 

From  Athens,  this  from  Sparte',  this  from  Thebes — 

Whence,  suited — as  stern-cables  steady  ship — 

You  might  liave  hold  on  life  gods  bless.     All  gone  ! 

Fortune  turns  round  and  gives  us — you,  the  Fates 

Instead  of  brides — me,  tears  for  nuptial  baths, 

Unhappy  in  my  hoping  !     And  the  sire 

Of  your  sire — he  prepares  the  marriage-feast 


242  •  HERAKLES. 

Befitting  Haides  who  plays  father  now — 

Bitter  relationship  !     Oh  me  !  which  first — 

Which  last  of  you  shall  I  to  bosom  fold  ? 

To  whom  shall  I  fit  close,  his  mouth  to  mine  ? 

Of  whom  shall  I  lay  hold  and  ne'er  let  go  ? 

How  would  I  gather,  like  tlie  brown-winged  bee. 

The  groans  from  all,  and,  gathered  into  one, 

Give  them  you  back  again,  a  crowded  tear  ! 

Dearest,  if  any  voice  be  heard  of  men 

Dungeoned  in  Haides,  thee — to  thee  I  speak  ! 

Here  is  thy  father  dying,  and  thy  boys  ! 

And  I  too  perish,  famed  as  fortunate 

By    mortals    once,   through   thee  !      Assist   them ! 

Come  ! 
But  come  !  though  just  a  shade,  appear  to  me  ! 
For,  coming,  thy  ghost-grandeur  would  suffice, 
Such  cowards  are  they  in  thy  presence,  these 
Who  kill  thy  children  now  thy  back  is  turned  ! 



Ay,  daughter,  bid  the  powers  below  assist  ! 
But  I  will  rather,  raising  hand  to  heaven, 
Call  thee  to  help,  O  Zeus,  if  thy  intent 
Be,  to  these  children,  helpful  anyway, 
Since  soon  thou  wilt  be  valueless  enough  ! 
And  yet  thou  hast  been  called  and  called  ;  in  vain 
I  labour  :  for  we  needs  must  die,  it  seems. 
V/dl,  aged  brothers— life  's  a  little  thing  ! 
Such  as  it  is,  then,  ])ass  life  pleasantly 
From  day  to  night,  nor  once  grieve  all  the  while  ! 
Since  Time  concerns  him  not  about  our  hopes, — 
To  save  them, — but  his  own  work  done,  flies  off 
Witness  myself,  looked  up  to  among  men, 
Doing  noteworthy  deeds :  when  here  comes  fate 
lifts  me  away,  like  feather  skyward  borne. 
In  one  day  !     Riches  then  and  glory, — whom 
R  2 


These  are  found  constant  to,  I  know  not.     Friends, 
Farewell !  the  man  who  loved  you  all  so  much, 
Now,  this  last  time,  my  mates,  ye  look  upon  ! 



O  father,  do  I  see  my  dearest  ?     Speak  ! 


No  more  than  thou  canst,  daughter— dumb  like  thee 


Is  this  he  whom  we  heard  was  under  ground  ? 


Unless  at  least  some  dream  in  day  we  see  ! 



^Vho.t  do  I  say?  what  dreams  insanely  view? 
This  is  no  other  than  thy  son,  old  sire  ! 
Here,  children  !  hang  to  these  paternal  robes, 
Quick,  haste,  hold  hard  on  him,  since  here's  your  trUe 
Zeus  that  can  save — and  every  whit  as  well ! 


O  hail,  my  palace,  my  hearth's  propula, — 
How  glad  I  see  thee  as  I  come  to  light ! 
Ha,  what  means  this?     My  children  I  behold 
Before  the  house  in  garments  of  the  grave, 
Chapleted,  and,  amid  a  crowd  of  men. 
My  very  wife — my  father  weeping  too, 
Whatever  the  misfortune  !     Come,  best  take 
My  station  nearer  these  and  learn  it  all  ! 
^Vife,  what  new  sorrow  has  approached  our  home  ? 



O  dearest  !  light  flashed  on  thy  father  now  ! 

Art  thou  come  ?  art  thou  saved  and  dost  thou  fall 

On  friends  in  their  supreme  extremity  ? 


How  say'st  thou  ?     Father  !  what's  the  trouble  here  ? 


Undone  are  we  ! — but  thou,  old  man,  forgive 
If  first  I  snatch  what  thou  shouldst  say  to  him  ! 
For  somehow  womanhood  wakes  pity  more. 
Here  are  my  children  killed  and  I  undone  ! 


Apollon,  with  what  preludes  speech  begins  ! 



Dead  are  my  brothers  and  old  father  too. 


How    say'st    thou? — doing    what? — by    spear-stroke 
whence  ? 


Lukos  destroyed  them — the  kind's  noble  king  ! 


Met  them  in  arms  ?  or  through  the  land's  disease? 


Sedition  :  and  he  sways  seven-gated  Thebes. 


Why  then  came  fear  on  the  old  man  and  thee  ? 


He  meant  to  kill  thy  father,  me,  our  boys. 


How  say'st  thou  ?     Fearing  what  from  orphanage  ? 


Lest  they  should  some  day  pay  back  Kreon's  death. 


And  why  trick  out  the  boys  corpse-fashion  thus  ? 


These  wraps  of  death  we  have  already  donned. 


And  you  had  died  througli  violence  ?     Woe's  me  ! 



Left  bare  of  friends :  and  thou  wast  dead,  we  heard. 


And  whence  came  on  you  this  faintheartedness  ? 


The  heralds  of  Eurustheus  brought  the  news. 


And  why  was  it  you  left  my  house  and  hearth  ? 


Forced  thence  :  thy  father — from  his  very  couch  ! 


And  no  shame  at  insulting  the  old  man  ? 


Shame,  truly  !  no  near  neighbours  he  and  Shame  ! 


And  so  much,  in  my  absence,  lacked  I  friends  ? 


Friends, — are  there  any  to  a  luckless  man  ? 


The  Minuai-war  I  waged, — they  spat  forth  these  ? 


Friendless, — again  I  tell  thee, — is  ill-luck. 


Will  not  you  cast  these  hell-wraps  from  your  hair 
And  look  on  light  again^  and  with  your  eyes  251 

Taste  the  sweet  change  from  nether  dark  to  day  ? 

^Vhile  I — for  now  there  needs  my  handiwork — 

First  I  shall  go,  demolish  the  abodes 

Of  these  new  lordships  ;  next  hew  off  the  head 

Accurst  and  toss  it  for  the  dogs  to  trail. 

Then,  such  of  the  Kadmeians  as  I  find 

Were  craven  though  they  owed  me  gi'atitude, — 

Some  I  intend  to  handle  with  this  club 

Renowned  for  conquest ;  and  with  winged  shafts 

Scatter  the  others,  fill  Ismenos  full 

With  bloody  corpses, — Dirke's  flow  so  white 

Shall  be  incarnadined.     For,  whom,  1  pray, 

Behoves  me  rather  help  than  wife  and  child 

And  aged  fiither?     Farewell,  "  Labours  "  mine  ! 

Vainly  I  wrought  them  :  my  true  work  lay  here  ! 

Isly  business  is  to  die  defending  these, — 

If  for  their  father's  sake  they  meant  to  die. 

Or  how  shall  we  call  brave  the  battling  it 


With  snake  and  lion,  as  Eurustheus  bade, 

If  yet  I  must  not  labour  death  away 

From  my  own  children  ?     "  Conquering  Herakles  " 

Folks  will  not  call  me  as  they  used,  I  think  ! 

The  right  thing  is  for  parents  to  assist 

Children,  old  age,  the  partner  of  the  couch. 


True,  son  !  thy  duty  is — be  friend  to  friends 
And  foe  to  foes :  yet— no  more  haste  than  needs  ! 


Why,  father,  what  is  over-hasty  here  ? 


Many  a  pauper, — seeming  to  be  rich, 

As  the  word  goes,— the  king  calls  partisan. 

Such  made  a  riot,  ruined  Thebes  to  rob 


Their  neighbour  :  for,  what  good  they  liad  at  home 
Was  spent  and  gone — flew  off  through  idleness. 
You  came  to  trouble  Thebes,  they  saw  :  since  seen, 
Beware  lest,  raising  foes,  a  multitude. 
You  stumble  where  you  apprehend  no  harm. 


If  all  Thebes  saw  me,  not  a  whit  care  I. 
But  seeing  as  I  did  a  certain  bird 
Not  in  the  lucky  seats,  I  knew  some  woe 
Was  foUen  upon  the  house  :  so,  purposely, 
By  stealth  I  made  my  way  into  the  land. 


And  now,  advancing,  hail  the  hearth  with  praise 
And  give  the  ancestral  home  thine  eye  to  see  ! 
For  he  himself  will  come,  thy  wife  and  sons 
To  drag-forth — slaughter— slay  me  too, — this  king  ! 


But,  here  remaining,  all  succeeds  with  thee — 
Gain  lost  by  no  false  step.  So,  this  thy  town 
Disturb  not,  son,  ere  thou  right  matters  here  I 


Thus  will  I  do,  for  thou  say'st  well ;  my  home 
Let  me  first  enter  !     Since  at  the  due  time 
Returning  from  the  unsunned  depths  where  dwells 
Haides'  wife  Kore,  let  me  not  affront 
Those  gods  beneath  my  roof,  I  first  should  hail  ! 


For  didst  thou  really  visit  Haides,  son  ? 


Ay — dragged  to  light,  too,  his  three-headed  beast. 


By  fight,  didst  conquer — or  through  Kore"s  gift  ? 



Fight :  Avell  for  nic,  I  saw  the  Orgies  first ! 


And  is  he  in  Eurusthcus'  house,  the  brute  ? 


Chthonia's  grove,  Hermion's  city,  holds  him  now. 


Does  not  Eurustheus  know  thee  back  on  earth  ? 


No  :  I  would  come  first  and  see  matters  here. 


But  how  wast  thou  below  ground  such  a  time  ? 



I  Stopped,  from  Haides,  bringing  Theseus  up. 


And  where  is  he  ? — bound  o'er  the  plain  for  home  ? 


Gone  glad  to  Athens — Haides'  fugitive  ! 

But,  up,  boys  !  follow  father  into  house  ! 

There's  a  far  better  going-in  for  you 

Truly,  than  going-out  was  !     Nay,  take  heart, 

And  let  the  eyes  no  longer  run  and  run  ! 

And  thou,  O  wife,  my  own,  collect  thy  soul 

Nor  tremble  now  !  Leave  grasping,  all  of  you. 

My  garments  !     I'm  not  winged,  nor  fly  from  friends  ! 


No  letting  go  for  these,  who  all  the  more 


Hang  to  my  garments  !     Did  you  foot  indeed 
'I'he  razor's  edge  ?     Why,  then  I'll  cany  them — 
Take  with  my  hands  these  small  craft  up,  and  tow- 
Just  as  a  ship  would.     There  !  don't  fear  I  shirk 
My  children's  service  !  this  way,  men  are  men, 
No  difference  !  best  and  worst,  they  love  their  boys 
After  one  fashion  :  wealth  they  difter  in — 
Some  have  it,  others  not ;  but  each  and  all 
Combine  to  form  the  children-loving  race. 


Youth  is  a  pleasant  burthen  to  me ; 
But  age  on  my  head,  more  heavily 
Than  the  crags  of  Aitna,  weighs  and  weighs, 
And  darkening  cloaks  the  lids  and  intercepts  the  rays. 
Never  be  mine  the  preference 
Of  an  Asian  empire's  wealth,  nor  yet 
Of  a  house  all  gold,  to  youth,  to  youth 



That's  beauty,  whatever  the  gods  dispense  ! 

Whether  in  wealth  we  joy,  or  fret 

Paupers,— of  all  God's  gifts  most  beautiful,  in  truth  ! 

But  miserable  murderous  age  I  hate  ! 
Let  it  go  to  wreck,  the  waves  adown. 
Nor  evei-  by  rights  plague  tower  or  town 
Where  mortals  bide,  but  still  elate 
With  wings,  on  ether,  precipitate, 
Wander  them  round— nor  wait  ! 

But  if  the  gods,  to  man's  degree, 

Had  wit  and  wisdom,  they  would  bring 

Mankind  a  twofold  youth,  to  be 

Their  virtue's  sign-mark,  all  should  see. 

In  those  with  whom  life's  winter  thus  grew  spring. 

For  when  they  died,  into  the  sun  once  more 

Would  they  have  traversed  twice  life's  racecourse  o'er ; 


W'hile  ignobility  had  simply  run 

Existence  through,  nor  second  life  begun. 

And  so  might  we  discern  both  bad  and  good 

As  surely  as  the  starry  multitude 

Is  numbered  by  the  sailors,  one  and  one. 

I'ut  now  the  gods  by  no  apparent  line 

Limit  the  worthy  and  the  base  define  ; 

Only,  a  certain  period  rounds,  and  so 

Brings  man  more  wealth, — but  youthful  vigour,  no  ! 

\\'ell !  I  am  not  to  pause 

Mingling  together — wine  and  wine  in  cup — 

The  Graces  with  the  Muses  up — 

Most  dulcet  marriage  :  loosed  from  music's  laws, 

No  life  for  me  ! 

But  where  the  wreaths  abound,  there  ever  may  I  be  \ 

And  still,  an  aged  bard,  I  shout  Mnemosune — 

Still  chant  of  Herakles  the  triumph-chant, 


Companioned  by  the  seven-stringed  tortoise-shell 
And  Libuan  flute,  and  Bromios'  self  as  well, 
God  of  the  grape,  with  man  participant  ! 
Not  yet  will  \\-e  arrest  their  glad  advance  — 
The  Muses  who  so  long  have  led  me  forth  to  d;rnce  ! 
A  paian — lijaim  the  Delian  girls  indeed, 
Weaving  a  beauteous  measure  in  and  out 
His  temple-gates,  Latona's  goodly  seed ; 
And  paians — I  too,  these  thy  domes  about. 
From  these  grey  cheeks,  my  king,  will  swan-like  shout- 
Old  songster  !     Ay,  in  song  it  starts  off  brave — 
"  Zeus'  son  is  he  !  "  and  yet,  such  grace  of  birth 
Surpassing  far,  to  man  his  labours  gave 
Existence,  one  calm  flow  without  a  wave, 
Having  destroyed  the  beasts,  the  terrors  of  the  earth. 


From  out  the  house  Amphitruon  comes — in  time  ! 


For  'tis  a  long  while  now  since  ye  bedecked 
Your  bodies  with  the  dead-folks'  finery. 
But  quick  !  the  boys  and  wife  of  Herakles — 
Bid  them  appear  outside  this  house,  keep  ])act 
To  die,  and  need  no  bidding   but  your  own  ! 


King  !  you  press  hard  on  me  sore-pressed  enough, 
And  give  me  scorn — beside  my  dead  ones  here. 
Meet  in  such  matters  were  it,  though  you  reign, 
To  temper  zeal  with  moderation.    Since 
You  do  impose  on  us  the  need  to  die — 
Needs  must  we  love  our  lot,  obey  your  will. 


Where's  Megara,  then?     Alkmene's  grandsons,  where? 


She,  I  think, — as  one  figiires  from  outside, — 

262      ■  HERAKLES. 

Well,  this  same  thinking, — what  affords  its  ground  ? 


— Sits  suppliant  on  the  holy  altar-steps, — 


Idly  indeed  a  suppliant  to  save  life  ! 


— And  calls  on  her  dead  husband,  vainly  too  ! 


For  he's  not  come,  nor  ever  will  arrive. 


Never — at  least,  if  no  god  raise  him  up. 


Go  to  her,  and  conduct  her  from  the  house  ! 


I  should  partake  the  murder,  doing  that. 


We, — since  thou  hast  a  scruple  in  the  case, — 
Outside  of  fears,  we  shall  march  forth  these  lads, 
Mother  and  all.     Here,  follow  me,  my  folk — 
And  gladly  so  remove  what  stops  our  toils  ! 


Thou — go  then  !      March  where  needs  must !     What 

remains — 
Perhaps  concerns  another.     Doing  ill, 
Expect  some  ill  be  done  thee ! 

1  #^*  t....  ... 

"!■    4J^   4^    #    '^    ^.     *-^   .'ft-.^.* 

•I?  -f 

f  "^1^ 



*  *.Jt 


Ha,  old  friends  ! 
On  he  strides  beautifully  !  in  the  toils 
O*  the  net,  where  swords  spring   forth,   will   he   be 

Minded  to  kill  his  neighbours — the  arch-knave  ! 
I  go,  too — I  must  see  the  falling  corpse  ! 
For  he  has  sweets  to  give- — a  dying  man, 
Your  foe,  that  pays  the  price  of  deeds  he  did. 


Troubles  are  over  !     He  the  great  king  once, 
Turns  the  point,  tends  for  Haides,  goal  of  life  ! 
O  justice,  and  the  gods'  back-flowing  fate  ! 


Thou  art  come,  late  indeed,  where  death  pays  crime — 
These  insults  heaped  on  better  than  thyself ! 


Joy  gives  this  outburst  to  my  tears  !     Again 
Come  round  those  deeds,  his  doing,  which  of  old 
He  never  dreamed  himself  was  to  endure — 
King  of  the  country  !     But  enough,  old  ! 
Indoors,  now,  let  us  see  how  matters  stand — 
If  somebody  be  faring  as  I  wish  ! 


Ah  me — mc  ! 


This  strikes  the  keynote—  nuisic  to  my  mind, 
Merry  i'  the  household  !     Death  takes  up  the  tune  ! 
The  king  gives  voice,  groans  murder's  prelude  well  ! 


O,  all  the  land  of  Kadmos  !  slain  by  guile  ! 



Ay,  for  who  slew  first  ?     Paying  back  thy  due, 
Resign  thee  !  make,  for  deeds  done,  mere  amends  ! 
Who  was  it  grazed  the  gods  through  lawlessness — 
Mortal  himself,  threw  up  his  fools'-conceit 
Against  the  blessed  heavenly  ones — as  though 
Gods    had    no   power?      Old   friends,    the    impious 

Exists  not  any  more  !     The  house  is  mute. 
Turn  we  to  song  and  dance  !     For,  those  I  love, 
Those  I  wish  well  to,  well  fare  they,  to  wish  ! 

Dances,  dances  and  banqueting 

To  Thebes,  the  sacred  city  through, 

Are  a  care  !  for,  change  and  change 

Of  tears  to  laughter,  old  to  new, 

Our  lays,  glad  birth,  they  bring,  they  bring  ! 


He  is  gone  and  past,  the  mighty  king  ! 

And  the  old  one  reigns,  returned — O  strange  ! 

From  die  Acherontian  liarbour  too  ! 

Advent  of  liope,  beyond  thought's  widest  range  ! 

To  the  gods,  the  gods  are  crimes  a  care, 

And  they  watch  our  virtue,  well  aware 

That  gold  and  that  prosperity  drive  man 

Out  of  his  mind— those  charioteers  who  hale 

Might-without-right  behind  them  :  foce  who  can 

Fortune's  reverse  which  time  prepares,  nor  quail  ? 

— He  who  evades  law  and  in  lawlessness 

Delights  him, — he  has  broken  down  his  trust — 

The  chariot,  riches  haled — now  blackening  in  the  dust  ! 

Ismenos,  go  thou  garlanded  ! 
Break  into  dance,  ye  ways,  the  polished  bed 
O'  the  seven-gated  city  !  Dirke,  thou 
Fair-flowing,  with  the  Asopiad  sisters  all, 


Leave  your  sire's  stream,  attend  the  festival 

Of  Herakles,    one   choir   of   nymphs,    sing    triumph 

now  ! 
O  woody  rock  of  Puthios  and  each  home 
O'  the  Helikonian  Muses,  ye  shall  come 
With  joyous  shouting  to  my  walls,  my  town 
Where  saw  the  light  that  Spartan  race,  those  "  Sown," 
Brazen-shield-bearing  chiefs,  whereof  the  band 
With  children's  children  renovates  our  land, 
To  Thebes  a  sacred  light  ! 
O  combination  of  the  marriage  rite — 
Bed  of  the  mortal-born  and  Zeus,  who  couched 
Beside  the  nymph  of  Perseus'  progeny  ! 
For  credible,  past  hope,  becomes  to  me 
That  nuptial  story  long  ago  avouched, 
O  Zeus  !  and  time  has  turned  the  dark  to  bright, 
And    made    one    blaze    of    truth    the    Herakleidan 

might — 


His,  who  emerged  from  earth's  pavilion,  left 
Plouton's  abode,  the  nether  palace-cleft. 
Thou  wast  the  lord  that  nature  gave  me — not 
That  baseness  born  and  l)red — my  king,  by  lot ! 
— Baseness  made  plain  to  all,  who  now  regard 
The  match  of  sword  with  sword  in  fight, — 
If  to  the  gods  the  Just  and  Right 
Still  pleasing  be,  still  claim  the  palm's  award. 

Honor  ! 

Are  we  come  to  the  self-same  passion  of  fear, 

Old  friends? — such  a  phantasm  fronts  me  here 

Visible  over  the  palace-roof! 

In  flight,  in  flight,  the  laggard  limb 

Bestir !  and  haste  aloof 

From  that  on  the  roof  there — grand  and  grim  ! 

O  Paian,  king  I 

Be  thou  my  safeguard  from  the  woeful  thing  I 



Courage,  old  men  !  beholding  here — Night's  birdi- 
Madness,  and  me  the  handmaid  of  the  gods, 
Iris  :  since  to  your  town  Ave  come,  no  plague — 
Wage  war  against  the  house  of  but  one  man 
From  Zeus  and  from  Alkmene  sprung,  they  say. 
Now,  till  he  made  an  end  of  bitter  toils. 
Fate  kept  him  safe,  nor  did  his  father  Zeus 
Let  us  once  hurt  him,  Here  nor  myself. 
But,  since  he  has  toiled  through  Eurustheus'  task. 
Here  desires  to  fix  fresh  blood  on  him — 
Slaying  his  children  :  I  desire  it  too. 

Up  then,  collecting  the  unsoftened  heart, 
Unwedded  virgin  of  black  Night !     Drive,  drag 
Frenzy  upon  the  man  here — whirls  of  brain 
Big  with  child-murder,  while  his  feet  leap  gay  ! 


Let  go  the  bloody  cable  its  whole  length  ! 

So  that, — when  o'er  the  Acherousian  ford 

He  has  sent  floating,  by  self-homicide, 

His  beautiful  boy-garland, — he  may  know 

First,  Herd's  anger,  what  it  is  to  him, 

And  then  learn  mine.     The  gods  are  vile  indeed 

And  mortal  matters  vast,  if  he  'scape  free  ! 


Certes,  from  well-born  sire  and  mother  too 

Had  I  my  birth,  whose  blood  is  Night's  and  Heaven's  ; 

l)Ut  here's  my  glory, — not  to  grudge  the  good  ! 

Nor  love  I  raids  against  the  friends  of  man. 

I  wish,  then,  to  persuade, — before  I  see 

You  stumbling,  you  and  Here  !  trust  my  words  ! 

This  man,  the  house  of  whom  ye  hound  me  to, 

Is  not  unfamed  on  earth  nor  gods  among ; 

Since,  having  quelled  waste  land  and  savage  sea, 


He  alone  raised  again  the  falling  rights 

Of  gods — gone  ruinous  through  impious  men. 

Desire  no  mighty  mischief,  I  advise  ! 


Give  thou  no  thought  to  Here's  faulty  schemes  ! 


Changing  her  step  from  faulty  to  fault-free  ! 


Not  to  be  wise,  did  Zeus'  wife  send  thee  here  ! 


Sun,  thee  I  cite  to  witness — doing  what  I  loathe  to  do  I 
But  since  indeed  to  Here  and  thyself  I  must  subserve. 
And  follow  you  quick,  with  a  whizz,  as  the  hounds  a-hunt 
with  the  huntsman, 


— Go  I  will  !  and  neither  the  sea,  as  it  groans  with  its 

waves  so  furiously, 
Nor  earthquake,  no,  nor  the  bolt  of  thunder  gasping  out 

hefiven's  labour-throe. 
Shall  cover  the  ground  as  I,  at  a  bound,  rush  into  the 

bosom  of  Herakles  ! 
And  home  I  scatter,  and  house  I  batter. 
Having  first  of  all  made  the  children  fall, — 
And  he  who  felled  them  is  never  to  know 
He  gave  birth  to  each  cliild  that  received  the  blow. 
Till  the  Madness,  I  am,  have  let  him  go  ! 

Ha,  behold,  already  he  rocks  his  head — he  is  off  from  the 

starting-place  ! 
Not   a  word,   as  he  rolls  his  frightful  orbs,  from  their 

sockets  wrenched  in  the  ghastly  race  ! 
And  the  breathings  of  him  he  tempers  and  times  no  more 

than  a  bull  in  act  to  toss, 



And  hideously  he  bellows  invoking  the  Keres,  daugliters 

of  Tartaros. 
Ay,  and  I  soon  will  dance  thee  madder,  and  pipe  thee 

quite  out  of  thy  mind  with  fear  ! 
So,  up  with  the  famous  foot,  thou  Iris,  march  to  Olumpos, 

leave  me  here  ! 
Me  and  mine,  who  now  combine,  in  the  dreadful  shape 

no  mortal  sees, 
And   now  are  about  to  pass,  from   without,  inside  of  the 

home  of  Herakles  ! 


Otototoi, — groan  !     Away  is  mown 

Thy  flower,  Zeus'  offspring,  City  ! 

Unhappy  Hellas,  who  dost  cast  (the  pity  !) 

\VhiO  worked  thee  all  the  good, 

Away  from  thee, — destroyest  in  a  mood 

Of  Madness  him,  to  death  whom  pipings  dance  ! 


There  goes  she,  in  her  chariot, — groans,  her  brood, — 

And  gives  her  team  the  goad,  as  though  adrift 

For    doom,    Night's    Gorgon,   Madness,   she^  whose 

Turns  man  to  marble  !  with  what  hissings  lift 
Their  hundred  heads  the  snakes,  her  head's  inheritance  ! 
Quick  has  the  god  changed  fortune  :  through  their  sire 
Quick  will  the  children,  that  he  saved,  expire  ! 
O  miserable  me  I     O  Zeus  I  thy  child — 
Childless  himself — soon  vengeance,  hunger-wild, 
Craving  for  punishment,  will  lay  how  low — 
Loaded  with  many  a  woe  ! 

O  palace-roofs  !   your  courts  about, 

A  measure  begins  all  unrejoiced 

By  the  tympanies  and  the  thyrsos  hoist 

Of  the  Bromian  revel-rout  ! 

O  ye  domes  !  and  the  measure  proceeds 



For  blood,  not  such  as  the  cluster  bleeds 
Of  the  Dionusian  pouring-out  ! 

Break  forth,  fly,  children  !  fatal  this— 

Fatal  the  lay  that  is  piped,  I  wis  ! 

Ay,  for  he  hunts  a  children-chase — 

Never  shall  madness  lead  her  revel 

And  leave  no  trace  in  the  dwelUng-place  ! 

Ai  ai,  because  of  the  evil ! 

Ai  ai,  the  old  man — how  I  groan 

For  the  father,  and  not  the  father  alone  ! 

She  who  was  nurse  of  his  children, — small 

Her  gain  that  they  ever  were  born  at  all ! 

See!  See! 

A  whirlwind  shakes  hither  and  thither 
The  house — the  roof  falls  in  together  ! 
Ha,  ha,  what  dost  thou,  son  of  Zeus  ? 


A  trouble  of  Tartaros  broke  loose, 
Such  as  once  Pallas  on  the  Titan  thundered, 
Thou   sendest   on   thy  domes,   roof-shattered  and  wall- 
sundered  ! 


O  bodies  white  with  age  ! — 


^Vhat  cry,  to  me — 
What,  dost  thou  call  with  ? 


There's  a  curse  indoors  ! 


I  shall  not  bring  a  prophet  :  you  suffice  ! 



Dead  are  the  children  ! 


Ai  ai ! 


Groan  !  for,  groans 
Suit  well  the  subject  !     Dire  the  children's  death, 
Dire  too  the  parent's  hands  that  dealt  the  fate. 
No  one  could  tell  worse  woe  than  we  have  borne  ! 


How    dost   thou   that    same   curse  —  curse,    cause   for 

groan — 
The  father's  on  the  children,  make  appear  ? 
Tell  in  what  matter  they  were  hurled  from  heaven 


Against  the  liouse — these  evils  ;  and  recount 
The  children's  hapless  fate,  O  Messenger  ! 


The  victims  were  before  the  hearth  of  Zeus, 
A  household-expiation  :  since  the  king 
O'  the  country,  Herakles  had  killed  and  cast 
From  out  the  dwelling  ;  and  a  beauteous  choir 
Of  boys  stood  by  his  sire,  too,  and  his  wife. 
And  now  the  basket  had  been  carried  round 
The  altar  in  a  circle,  and  we  used 
The  consecrated  speech.     Alkmene's  son, — 
Just  as  he  was  about,  in  his  right  hand, 
To  bear  the  torch,  that  he  might  dip  into 
The  cleansing-water, — came  to  a  stand-still ; 
And,  as  their  father  yet  delayed,  his  boys 
Had  their  eyes  on  him.     But  he  was  himself 
No  longer  :  lost  in  rollings  of  the  eyes  3 

28o  .HERAKLES. 

Outthrusting  eyes — their  very  roots — like  blood  ! 
Froth  he  dropped  down  his  bushy-bearded  cheek, 
And  said, — together  with  a  madman's  laugh — 
"  Father  !  why  sacrifice,  before  I  slay 
Eunistheus  ?  why  have  twice  the  lustral  fire, 
And  double  pains,  when  'tis  permitted  me 
To  end,  with  one  good  hand-sweep,  matters  here? 
Then, — when  I  hither  bring  Eurustbeus'  head, — 
Then  for  these  just  slain,  wash  hands  once  for  all  ! 
Now, — cast  drink-offerings  forth,  throw  baskets  down  ' 
Who  gives  me  bow  and  arrows,  who  my  club  ? 
I  go  to  that  Mukenai  !     One  must  match 
Crowbars  and  mattocks,  so  that — those  sunk  stones 
The  Kuklops  squared  with  picks  and  plumb-line  red — 
I,  with  my  bent  steel,  may  o'ertimible  town  !  " 
Which  said,  he  goes  and, — with  no  car  to  have — 
Affirms  he  has  one!  mounts  the  chariot-board, 
And  strikes,  as  having  really  goad  in  hand  ! 


And  two  ways  laughed  the  servants — laugh  with  awe ; 

And  one  said,  as  each  met  the  other's  stare, 

"  Playing  us  boys'  tricks  ?  or  is  master  mad  ?  " 

But  up  he  climbs,  and  down  along  the  roof, 

And,  dropping  into  the  men's  place,  maintains 

He's  come  to  Nisos  city,  when  he's  come 

Only  inside  his  own  house  !  then  reclines 

On  floor,  for  couch,  and,  as  arrived  indeed, 

Makes  himself  supper ;  goes  through  some  brief  stay, 

Then  says  he's  traversing  the  forest-flats 

Of  Isthmos  ;  thereupon  lays  body  bare 

Of  bucklings,  and  begins  a  contest  with 

— No  one !  and  is  proclaimed  the  conqueror — 

He  by  himself — having  called  out  to  hear 

— Nobody  !     Then,  if  you  will  take  his  word, 

Blaring  against  Eurustheus  horribly, 

He's  at  Mukenai.     But  his  father  laid 

Hold  of  the  stronsc  hand  and  addressed  him  thus  : 


"  O  son,  what  ails  thee  ?     Of  what  sort  is  this 

Extravagance  ?     Has  not  some  murder-craze, 

Bred  of  those  corpses  thou  didst  just  despatch, 

Danced  thee  drunk?"     But  he, — taking  him  to  crouch, 

Eurustheus'  sire,  that  apprehensive  touched 

His  hand,  a  suppHant, — pushes  him  aside, 

Gets  ready  quiver,  and  bends  bow  against 

His  children — thinking  them  Eurustheus'  boys 

He  means  to  slay.     They,  horrified  with  fear, 

Rushed  here  and  there, — this  child,  into  the  robes 

O'  the  wretched  mother — this,  beneath  the  shade 

O'  the  column,— and  this  other,  like  a  bird, 

Cowered  at  the  altar-foot.     The  mother  shrieks 

"  Parent — what  dost  thou  ? — kill  thy  children  ?  "     So 

Shriek  the  old  sire  and  crowd  of  servitors. 

But  he,  outwinding  him,  as  round  about 

The  column  ran  the  boy, — a  horrid  whirl 

O'  the  lathe  his  foot  described  ! — stands  opposite, 


Strikes  through  the  hver  !  and  suphie  the  boy 
Bedews  the  stone  shafts,  breathing  out  his  Ufe. 
But  "  Victory  "  he  sliouted  !  boasted  thus  : 
"  Well,  this  one  nestling  of  Eurustheus — dead— 
Falls  by  me,  pays  back  the  paternal  hate !  " 
Then  bends  bow  on  another  who  was  crouched 
At  base  of  altar—overlooked,  he  thought — 
And  now  prevents  hiin^  falls  at  father's  knee, 
Throwing  up  hand  to  beard  and  cheek  above. 
"  O  dearest !"  cries  he  "  father,  kill  mc  not ! 
Yours,  I  am— your  boy  :  not  Eurustheus'  boy 
You  kill  now  ! "     But  he,  rolling  the  wild  eye 
Of  Gorgon,— as  the  boy  stood  all  too  close 
For  deadly  bowshot,— mimicry  of  smith 
Who  baiters  red-hot  iron,— hand  o'er  head 
Heaving  his  club,  on  the  boy's  yellow  hair 
Hurls    it    and    breaks    the    bone.      This    second 
caught, — 


He  goes,  would  slay  the  third,  one  sacrifice 

He  and  the  couple  ;  but,  beforehand  here, 

The  miserable  mother  catches  up, 

Carries  him  inside  house  and  bars  the  gate. 

Then  he,  as  he  were  at  those  Kuklops'  work. 

Digs  at,  heaves  doors  up,  wrenches  doorposts  out, 

Lays  wife  and  child  low  with  the  selfsame  shaft. 

And  this  done,  at  the  old  man's  death  he  drives ; 

But  there  came,  as  it  seemed  to  us  who  saw, 

A  statue — Pallas  with  the  crested  head. 

Swinging  her  spear — and  threw  a  stone  which  smote 

Herakles'  breast  and  stayed  his  slaughter-rage, 

And  sent  him  safe  to  sleep.     He  falls  to  ground — 

Striking  against  the  column  with  his  back — 

Column  which,  with  the  falling  of  the  roof, 

Broken  in  two,  lay  by  the  altar-base. 

And  we,  foot-free  now  from  our  several  flights, 

Along  with  the  old  man,  we  fastened  bonds 


Of  rope-noose  to  the  column,  so  that  he, 

Ceasing  from  sleep,  might  not  go  adding  deeds 

To  deeds  done.     And  he  sleeps  a  sleep,  poor  wretch, 

No  gift  of  any  god  !  since  he  has  slain 

Children  and  wife.     For  me,  I  do  not  know 

What  mortal  has  more  misery  to  bear. 


A  murder  there  was  which  Argolis 
Holds  in  remembrance,  Hellas  through. 
As,  at  that  time,  best  and  famousest : 
Of  those,  the  daughters  of  Danaos  slew. 
A  murder  indeed  was  that !  but  this 
Outstrips  it,  straight  to  the  goal  has  pressed. 
I  am  able  to  speak  of  a  murder  done 
To  the  hapless  Zeus-bom  offspring,  too — 
Prokn^'s  son,  who  had  but  one — 
Or  a  sacrifice  to  the  Muses,  say 


Rather,  who  Itus  sing  ahvay, 

Her  single  child  !     But  thou,  the  sire 

Of  children  three — O  thou  consuming  fire  ! — 

In  one  outrageous  fate  hast  made  them  all  expire  ! 

And  this  outrageous  fate — 

What  groan,  or  wail,  or  deadmen's  dirge, 

Or  choric  dance  of  Haides  shall  I  urge 

The  Muse  to  celebrate  ? 

Woe  !  woe  !  behold  ! 

The  portaled  palace  lies  unrolled, 

This  way  and  that  way,  each  prodigious  fold  ! 

Alas  for  me  !  these  children,  see, 

Stretched,  hapless  group,  before  their  father — he 

The  all-unhappy,  who  lies  sleeping  out 

The  murder  of  his  sons,  a  dreadful  sleep  ! 

And  bonds,  see,  all  about, — 

Rope-tangle,  ties  and  tether, — these 


Tightenings  around  the  body  of  Herakles 
To  the  stone  cohunns  of  the  house  made  fast  ! 

But — Hke  a  bird  that  grieves 

For  callow  nestlings,  some  rude  hand  bereaves — 

See,  here,  a  bitter  journey  over-past, 

The  old  man— all  too  late— is  here  at  last  ! 


Silently,  silently,  aged  Kadmeians  ! 
Will  ye  not  suffer  my  son,  diffused 
Yonder,  to  slide  from  his  sorrows  in  sleep  ? 


And  thee,  old  man,  do  I,  groaning,  weep, 

And  the  children  too,  and  the  head  there — used 

Of  old  to  the  wreaths  and  paians  ! 



Farther  away !     Nor  beat  the  breast, 
Nor  wail  aloud,  nor  rouse  from  rest 
The  slumberer — asleep,  so  best  ! 


Ah  me — what  a  slaughter ! 


R.efrain — refrain  ! 
Ye  will  prove  my  perdition  ! 


Unlike  water. 
Bloodshed  rises  from  earth  again  ! 


Do  I  bid  you  bate  your  breath,  in  vain — 


Ye  elders?     Lament  in  a  softer  strain  ! 
Lest  he  rouse  himself,  burst  every  chain, 
And  bury  the  city  in  ravage — bray 
Father  and  house  to  dust  away  ! 


I  cannot  forbear — I  cannot  forbear  ! 


Hush  !  I  will  learn  his  breathings  :  there  ! 
I  will  lay  my  ears  close. 


What,  he  sleeps  ? 


Ay, — sleeps  !     A  horror  of  slumber  keeps 
The  man  who  has  piled 
On  wife  and  child 



Death  and  death,  as  he  shot  them  down 
With  clang  o'  the  bow. 




Even  so ! 


— The  fate  of  the  children — 


Triple  woe  ! 


— Old  man,  the  fate  of  thy  son  ! 


Hush,  hush  !     Have  done  ! 


He  is  turning  about ! 

He  is  breaking  out  ! 

Away  !  I  steal 

And  my  body  conceal, 

Before  he  arouse, 

In  the  depths  of  the  house  ! 


Courage  !     The  Night 

Maintains  her  right 

On  the  lids  of  thy  son  there,  sealed  from  sight ! 


See,  see  !     To  leave  the  light 
And,  wretcli  that  I  am,  bear  one  last  ill, 
I  do  not  avoid  ;  but  if  he  kill 
Me  his  own  father,  and  devise 
Beyond  the  present  miseries 
u  2 


A  misery  more  ghastly  still — 
And  to  haunt  him,  over  and  above 
Those  here  who,  as  they  used  to  love, 
Now  hate  him,  Avhat  if  he  have  with  these 
My  murder,  the  worst  of  Erinues  ? 


Then  was  the  time  to  die,  for  thee, 

When  ready  to  wreak  in  the  full  degree 

Vengeance  on  those 

Thy  consort's  foes 

Who  murdered  her  brothers  !  glad,  life's  close, 

With  the  Taphioi  down, 

And  sacked  their  town 

Clustered  about  with  a  wash  of  sea  ! 


To  flight— to  flight  ! 

Away  from  the  house,  troop  off,  old  men  ! 


Save  j'ourselves  out  of  the  maniac's  sight ' 
He  is  rousing  himself  right  up  :  and  then, 
Murder  on  murder  heaping  anew, 
He  will  revel  in  blood  your  city  through  ! 


0  Zeus,  why  hast,  with  such  unmeasured  hate, 
Hated  thy  son,  whelmed  in  this  sea  of  woes  ? 



In  breath  indeed  I  am — see  things  I  ought — 
/Ether,  and  earth,  and  tliese  the  sunbeam-shafts  ! 
But  then — some  billow  and  strange  whirl  of  sense 

1  have  fallen  into  !  and  breathings  hot  I  breathe — 
Smoked  upwards,  not  the  steady  work  from  lungs. 
See  now  !     Why  bound, — at  moorings  like  a  ship, — 
About  my  young  breast  and  young  arm,  to  this 



Stone  piece  of  carved  work  broke  in  half,  do  I 
Sit,  have  my  rest  in  corpses'  neighbourhood  ? 
Strewn  on  the  ground  are  winged  darts,  and  bow 
Which   played    my    brother-shieldman,    held    in 

hand, — 
Guarded  my  side,  and  got  my  guardianship  ! 
I  cannot  have  gone  back  to  Haides — twice 
Begun  Eurustheus'  race  I  ended  thence  ? 
But  I  nor  see  the  Sisupheian  stone. 
Nor  Plouton,  nor  Demeter's  sceptred  maid  ! 
I  am  struck  witless  sure  !    Where  can  I  be  ? 
Ho  there  !  what  friend  of  mine  is  near  or  far — 
Some  one  to  cure  me  of  bewilderment  ? 
For  nought  familiar  do  I  recognize. 


Old  friends,  shall  I  go  close  to  these  my  woes  ? 



Ay,  and  let  mc  too, — nor  desert  your  ills  ! 


Father,  why  weepest  thou,  and  buriest  up 
Thine  eyes,  aloof  so  from  thy  much-loved  son  ? 


O  child  ! — for,  faring  badly,  mine  thou  art ! 


Do  I  fare  somehow  ill,  that  tears  should  flow  ? 


lll^_would  cause  any  god  who  bore,  to  groan  ! 


That's  boasting,  truly  !  still,  you  state  no  hap. 



For,  thyself  seest — if  in  thy  wits  again. 


Heyday  !  How  riddlingly  that  hint  returns  ! 


Well,  I  am  trying — art  thou  sane  and  sound  ! 


Say  if  thou  lay'st  aught  strange  to  my  life's  charge  ! 


If  thou  no  more  art  Haides-drunk, — I  tell ! 


I  bring  to  mind  no  drunkenness  of  soul. 



Shall  I  unbind  my  son,  old  men,  or  what  ? 


And  who  was  binder,  tell  ! — not  that,  \\\)-  deed  ! 


Mind  that  much  of  misfortune — pass  the  rest ! 


Enough  !  from  silence,  I  nor  learn  nor  wish. 


O  Zeus,  dost  witness  here  throned  Here's  work  ? 


But  have  I  had  to  bear  au^ht  hostile  thence  ? 


Let  be  the  goddess — bury  thine  own  guilt  ! 


Undone  !     What  is  the  sorrow  thou  wilt  say  ? 


Look  !  See  the  ruins  of  thy  children  here  ! 


Ah  me  !     What  sight  do  wretched  I  behold  ? 


Unfair  fight,  son,  this  fight  thou  fastenedst 
On  thine  own  children  ! 


Waiat  fight  ?    ^\'ho  slew  these  ? 



Thou  and  thy  bow,  and  who  of  gods  was  cause. 


How  say'st  ?     What  did  I  ?     Ill-announcing  sire  ! 


— Go  mad  !     Thou  askest  a  sad  clearing  up  ! 


And  am  I  also  murderer  of  my  wife  ? 


All  the  work  here  was  just  one  hand's  work— thine  ! 


Ai  ai— for  groans  encompass  me — a  cloud  ! 



For  these  deeds'  sake  do  I  begroan  thy  fate  ! 


Did  I  break  up  my  house  or  dance  it  down  ? 


I  know  just  one  thing — all's  a  woe  with  thee  ! 


But  where  did  the  craze  catch  me  ?  where  destroy? 


When  thou  didst  cleanse  hands  at  the  altar-flame. 


Ah  me  !  why  is  it  then  I  save  my  life — 
Proved  murderer  of  my  dearest  ones,  my  boys  ? 
Shall  not  I  rush  to  the  rock-level's  leap, 


Or,  darting  sword  through  breast  and  all,  become 
My  children's  blood-avenger  ?  or,  this  flesh 
Burning  away  with  fire,  so  thrust  away 
The  infamy,  which  waits  me  there,  from  life  ? 

Ah,  but, — a  hindrance  to  my  purposed  death, 
Theseus  arrives,  my  friend  and  kinsman,  here  ! 
Eyes  will  be  on  me  !  my  child-murder-plague 
In  evidence  before  friends  loved  so  much  ! 

0  me,  what  shall  I  do  ?     Where,  taking  wing 
Or  gliding  underground,  shall  I  seek  out 

A  solitariness  from  misery  ? 

1  will  pull  night  upon  my  muffled  head  ! 

Let  this  wretch  here  content  him  with  his  curse 
Of  blood  :  I  would  pollute  no  innocents  ! 


I  come, — with  others  who  await  beside 


Asopos'  Stream,  the  armed  Athenian  youth, — 
Bring  thy  son,  old  man,  spear's  fight-fellowship  ! 
For  a  bruit  reached  the  Erectheidai's  town 
That,  having  seized  the  sceptre  of  this  realm, 
Lukos  prepares  you  battle-violence. 
So,  paying  good  back, — Herakles  began, 
Saving  me  down  there, — I  have  come,  old  man. 
If  aught,  of  my  hand  or  my  friends',  you  want. 
What's  here  ?     Why  all  these  corpses  on  the  ground  ? 
Am  I  perhaps  behindhand — come  too  late 
Fornewer  ill?     Who  killed  these  children  now? 
Whose  wife  was  she,  this  woman  I  behold  ? 
Boys,  at  least,  take  no  stand  in  reach  of  spear  ! 
Some  other  woe  than  war,  I  chance  upon  ! 


O  thou,  who  sway'st  the  olive-bearing  height ! — 



Why  hail'st  thou  me  with  woeful  prelude  thus  ? 


Dire  sufferings  have  we  suffered  from  the  gods. 


These  boys,— who  are  they,  thou  art  weeping  o'er  ? 


He  gave  them  birth,  indeed,  my  hapless  son  ! 
Begot,  but  killed  them — dared  their  bloody  death. 


Speak  no  such  horror  ! 


Would  I  might  obey  ! 



O  teller  of  dread  tidings  ! 


Lost  are  we — 
Lost — flown  away  from  life  ! 


What  sayest  thou  ? 
What  did  he  ? 


Erring  through  a  frenzy-fit, 
He  did  all,  with  the  arrows  dipt  in  dye 
Of  hundred-headed  Hudra, 


Here  's  strife  ! 
But  who  is  this  among  the  dead,  old  man  ? 



Mine,  mine,  this  progeny— the  labour-plagued. 
Who  went  with  gods  once  to  Phlegruia's  plain. 
And  in  the  giant-slaying  war  bore  shield  ! 


Woe— woe  !     What  man  was  born  mischanceful  thus  ! 


Thou  couldst  not  know  another  mortal  man 
Toil- weary,  more  out-worn  by  wanderings. 


And  wh}-  i'  the  peploi  hides  he  his  sad  head  ? 


Not  daring  meet  thine  eye,  thy  friendliness 
And  kinship,— nor  that  children's-blood  about ! 



But  /  come  to  who  shared  my  woe  with  me  ! 
Uncover  him  ! 


O  child,  put  from  thine  eyes 
The  peplos,  throw  it  off,  show  face  to  sun  ! 
Woe's  weight  well  matched  contends  with  tears  in  thee. 
I  supplicate  thee,  falling  at  thy  cheek 
And  knee  and  hand,  and  shedding  this  old  tear  ! 

0  son,  remit  the  savage  lion's  mood, 
Since  to  a  bloody,  an  unholy  race 
Art  thou  led  forth,  if  thou  be  resolute 
To  go  on  adding  ill  to  ill,  my  child  ! 


Let  me  speak  !     Thee,  who  sittest — seated  woe — 

1  call  upon  to  show  thy  friends  thine  eye  ! 


For  there's  no  darkness  has  a  cloud  so  black 
May  hide  thy  misery  thus  absolute. 
Why,  waving  hand,  dost  sign  me — murder's  done  ? 
Lest  a  pollution  strike  me,  from  thy  speech  ? 
Nought  care  I  to — with  thee,  at  least — fare  ill : 
For  I  had  joy  once  !     Thcn^ — soul  rises  to, — 
When  thou  didst  save  me  from  the  dead  to  light ! 
Friends'  gratitude  that  tastes  old  age,  I  loathe, 
And  him  who  likes  to  share  when  things  look  fine, 
But,  sail  along  with  friends  in  trouble — no  ! 
Arise,  uncover  thine  unhai)py  head  ! 
Look  on  us  !     Every  man  of  the  right  race 
Bears  what,  at  least,  the  gods  inflict,  nor  shrinks. 


Theseus,  hast  seen  this  match — my  boys  with  me? 


I  heard  of,  now  I  see  the  ills  thou  sign'st. 
.X  2 



Why  then  hast  thou  displayed  my  head  to  sun  ? 


Why  ?  mortals  bring  no  plague  on  aught  divine  ! 


Fly,  O  unhappy,  me — an  impious  plague  ! 


No  plague  of  vengeance  flits  to  friends  from  friends. 


I  praise  thee  !     But  I  helped  thee, — that  is  truth. 


And  I,  advantaged  then,  now  pity  thee. 



— The  pitiable, — my  children's  murderer  ! 


I  mourn  for  thy  sake,  in  this  altered  lot. 


Hast  thou  found  others  in  still  greater  woe  ? 


'I'hou,  from  earth,  touchcst  heaven,  one  huge  distress  I 


Accordingly,  I  am  prepared  to  die. 


Think'st  thou  thy  threats  at  all  import  the  gods  ? 



Gods  please  themselves  :  to  gods  I  give  their  like. 


Shut  thy  mouth,  lest  big  words  bring  bigger  woe  ! 


I  am  full  fraught  with  ills — no  stowing  more  ! 


Thou  wilt  do — what,  then  ?     Whither  moody  borne  ? 


Dying,  I  go  below  earth  whence  I  came. 


Thou  hast  used  words  of — what  man  turns  up  first ! 


Wliile  thou,  being  outside  sorrow,  schoolest  me. 


The  much-enduring  Herakles  talks  thus  ?— 


Not  the  so  much-enduring :  measure  's  past ! 


—Mainstay  to  mortals,  and  their  mighty  friend  ? 


They  nowise  profit  me  :  but  Here  rules. 


I-Iellas  forbids  thou  shouldst  ineptly  die. 



But  hear,  then,  how  I  strive  by  arguments 
Against  thy  teachings  !  I  will  ope  thee  out 
My  life — past,  present — as  unliveable. 
First,  I  was  born  of  this  man,  who  had  slain 
His  mother's  aged  sire,  and,  sullied  so, 
Married  Alkmene,  she  who  gave  me  birth. 
Now,  when  the  basis  of  a  family 
Is  not  laid  right,  what  follows  needs  must  fall 
And  Zeus,  whoever  Zeus  is,  fonned  me  foe 
To  Here  (take  not  thou  offence,  old  man  ! 
Since  father,  in  Zeus'  stead,  account  I  thee) 
And,  while  I  was  at  suck  yet,  frightful  snakes 
She  introduced  among  my  swaddling-clothes,- 
That  bed-fellow  of  Zeus  ! — to  end  me  so. 
But  when  I  gained  the  youthful  garb  of  flesh, 
The  labours  I  endured — what  need  to  tell  ? 


\Miat  lions  ever,  or  three-bodied  brutes, 

Tuphons  or  giants,  or  the  four-legg'd  swarms 

Of  Kentaur-battle,  did  not  I  end  out  ? 

And  that  hound,  headed  all  about  with  heads 

Which  cropped  up  twice,  the  Hudra,  having  slain  — 

I  both  went  through  a  mj-riad  other  toils 

In  full  drove,  and  arrived  among  the  dead 

To  convoy,  as  Eurustheus  bade,  to  light 

Haides'  three-headed  dog  and  door-keeper. 

But  then  I,— wretch,— dared  this  last  labour— see  ! 

Slew  my  sons,  keystone-coped  my  house  with  ills. 

To  such  a  strait  I  come  !  nor  my  dear  Thebes 

Dare  I  inhabit, — and,  suppose  I  stay? 

Into  what  fane  or  festival  of  friends 

Am  I  to  go  ?     My  curse  scarce  courts  accost  ! 

Shall  I  seek  Argos  ?     How,  if  fled  from  home  ? 

But  ^ay, — I  hurry  to  some  other  town  ! 

And  there  they  eye  me,  as  notorious  now, — 


Kept  by  sharp  tongue-taunts  under  lock  and  key — 

"  Is  not  this  he,  Zeus'  son,  who  murdered  once 

Children  and  wife  ?     Let  him  go  rot  elsewhere  !  " 

To  any  man  renowned  as  happy  once, 

Reverses  are  a  grave  thing  ;  but  to  whom 

Evil  is  old  acquaintance,  there's  no  hurt 

To  speak  of,  he  and  misery  are  twins. 

To  this  degree  of  woe  I  think  to  come  : 

For  earth  will  utter  voice  forbidding  me 

To  touch  the  ground,  and  sea — to  pierce  the  wave. 

The  river-springs — to  drink,  and  I  shall  play 

Ixion's  part  quite  out,  the  chained  and  wheeled  ! 

And  best  of  all  will  be,  if  so  I  'scape 

Sight  from  one  man  of  those  Hellenes, — once 

I  lived  among,  felicitous  and  rich  ! 

Why  ought  I  then  to  live  ?     What  gain  accrues 

From  good-for-nothing,  wicked  life  I  lead  ? 

In  fine,  let  Zeus'  brave  consort  dance  and  sing. 


Stamp  foot,  the  Olympian  Zeus'  own  sandal-trick ! 

What  she  has  willed,  that  brings  her  will  to  pass — 

The  foremost  man  of  Hellas  pedestalled, 

Up,  over,  and  down  whirling  !     Who  would  pray 

To  such  a  goddess  ? — tliat,  begrudging  Zeus 

Because  he  loved  a  woman,  ruins  me — 

Lover  of  Hellas,  faultless  of  the  wrong  ! 


This  strife  is  from  no  other  of  the  gods 
Than  Zeus'  wife ;  rightly  apprehend,  as  well, 
Why,  to  no  death— thou  meditatest  now — 
I  would  persuade  thee,  but  to  bear  thy  woes  ! 
None,  none  of  mortals  boasts  a  fate  inimixed, 
Nor  gods — if  poets'  teaching  be  not  false. 
Have  not  they  joined  in  wedlock  against  law 
With  one  another  ?  not,  for  sake  of  rule, 
Branded  their  sires  in  bondage  ?     Yet  they  house, 


All  the  same,  in  Olumpos,  carry  heads 

High  there,  notorious  sinners  though  they  be  ! 

What  wilt  thou  say,  then,  if  thou,  mortal-born, 

Bearest  outrageously  fate  gods  endure  ? 

Leave  Thebes,  now,  pay  obedience  to  the  law, 

And  follow  me  to  Pallas'  citadel  ! 

There,  when  thy  hands  are  purified  from  stain. 

House  will  I  give  thee,  and  goods  shared  alike. 

What  gifts  I  hold  too  from  the  citizens 

For  saving  twice  seven  children,  when  I  slew 

The  Knosian  bull,  these  also  give  I  thee. 

And  ever}'^vhere  about  the  land  are  plots 

Apportioned  me  :  these,  named  by  thine  own  name. 

Shall  be  henceforward  styled  by  all  men — thine. 

Thy  life  long  ;  but  at  death,  when  Haides-bound, 

All  Athens  shall  uphold  the  honoured  one 

With  sacrifices,  and  huge  marble  heaps : 

For  that's  a  fair  crown  our  Hellenes  grant 


Their  peoiile— glory,  should  they  help  the  brave  ! 
And  I  repay  thee  back  this  grace  for  thine 
That  saved  me,  now  that  thou  art  lorn  of  friends — 
Since,  when  the  gods  give  honour,  friends  may  flit : 
For,  a  god's  help  suffices,  if  he  please. 


Ah  me,  these  words  are  foreign  to  my  woes ! 

I  neither  fancy  gods  love  lawless  beds, 

Nor,  that  with  chains  they  bind  each  other's  hands. 

Have  I  judged  worthy  faith,  at  any  time  ; 

Nor  shall  I  be  persuaded — one  is  born 

His  fellows'  master  !  since  God  stands  in  need — 

If  he  is  really  God— of  nought  at  all. 

These  arc  the  poets'  pitiful  conceits  ! 

But  this  it  was  I  pondered,  though  woe-whelmed — 

"  Take  heed  lest  thou  be  taxed  with  cowardice 

Somehow  in  leaving  thus  the  light  of  day  ! " 


For  whoso  cannot  make  a  stand  against 

These  same  misfortunes,  neither  could  withstand 

A  mere  man's  dart,  oppose  death,  strength  to  strength. 

Therefore  unto  thy  city  I  will  go 

And  have  the  grace  of  thy  ten  thousand  gifts. 

There  !  I  have  tasted  of  ten  thousand  toils 

As  truly — never  waived  a  single  one, 

Nor  let  these  runnings  drop  from  out  my  eyes  ! 

Nor  ever  thought  it  would  have  come  to  this — 

That  I  from  out  my  eyes  do  drop  tears  !     Well ! 

At  present,  as  it  seems,  one  bows  to  fate. 

So  be  it !     Old  man,  thou  seest  my  exile — 

Seest,  too,  me— my  children's  murderer  ! 

These  give  thou  to  the  tomb,  and  deck  the  dead, 

Doing  them  honor  with  thy  tears — since  me 

Law  does  not  sanction  !     Propping  on  her  breast, 

And  giving  them  into  their  mother's  arms, 

• — Re-institute  the  sad  community 


AXTiich  I,  unhappy,  brought  to  nothingness — 

Not  by  my  will  !     And,  when  earth  hides  the  dead, 

Live  in  this  city  ! — sad,  but,  all  the  same, 

Force  thy  soul  to  bear  woe  along  with  me  ! 

O  children, — who  begat  and  gave  you  birth — 

Your  father,  has  destroyed  you  !  nought  you  gain 

By  those  fair  deeds  of  mine  I  laid  you  uj). 

As  by  main-force  I  laboured  glory  out 

To  give  you, — that  fine  gift  of  fatherhood  ! 

And  thee,  too,  O  my  i)oor  one,  I  destroyed, 

Not  rendering  like  for  like,  as  when  thou  kept'st 

My  marriage-bed  inviolate, — those  long 

Household-seclusions  draining  to  the  dregs 

Inside  my  house  !     O  me,  my  wife,  my  boys — 

And — O  myself,  how,  miserably  moved, 

Am  I  disyoked  now  from  both  boys  and  wife  ! 

O  bitter  those  delights  of  kisses  now — 

And  bitter  these  my  weapons'  fellowship  ! 


For  I  am  doubtful  whether  shall  I  keep 

Or  cast  away  these  arrows  which  will  clang 

Ever  such  words  out,  as  they  knock  my  side — 

"  Us — thou  didst  murder  wife  and  children  with  ! 

Us — child-destroyers — still  thou  keepest  thine  !  " 

Ha,  shall  I  bear  them  in  my  arms,  then  ?     What 

Say  for  excuse  ?     Yet,  naked  of  my  darts 

\\Tierewith  I  did  my  bravest,  Hellas  through. 

Throwing  myself  beneath  foot  to  my  foes, 

Shall  I  die  basely  ?     No  !  relinquishment 

Of  these  must  never  be, — companions  once, 

We  sorrowfully  must  observe  the  pact ! 

In  just  one  thing,  co-operate  with  me 

Thy  sad  friend,  Theseus  !     Go  along  with  him 

To  Arges,  and  in  concert  get  arranged 

The  price  my  due  for  bringing  there  the  Hoimd  ! 

O  land  of  Kadmos,  Theban  people  all, 

Shear  off  your  locks,  lament  one  wide  lament, 


Go  to  my  children's  grave  and,  in  one  strain, 
Lament  the  whole  of  us — my  dead  and  me — 
Since  all  together  are  fordone  and  lost, 
Smitten  by  Here"s  single  stroke  ot  fate  ! 


Rise  up  now  from  tliy  dead  ones  !     Tears  enough. 
Poor  friend  ! 


I  cannot :  for  my  limbs  are  fixed. 


Ay :  even  these  strong  men  fate  overthrows  ! 


Woe ! 

Here  might  I  grow  a  stone,  nor  mind  woes  more  ! 



Cease  !     Give  thy  hand  to  friendly  helpmate  now  1 


Nay,  but  I  wipe  off  blood  upon  thy  robes  ! 


Squeeze  out  and  spare  no  drop  !  I  take  it  all ! 


Of  sons  bereaved,  I  have  thee  like  my  son  ! 


Give  to  my  neck  thy  hand  !  'tis  I  will  lead. 


Yoke-fellows  friendly — one  heart-broken,  though  ! 
O  father  !  such  a  man  we  need  for  friend  ! 



Certes,  the  land  tliat  bred  him  boasts  good  sons  ! 


Turn  me  round,  Theseus — to  behold  my  boys  ! 


What  ?  will  the  having  such  a  love-charm  soothe  ? 


I  want  it  ;  and  to  press  my  father's  breast. 


See  here,  O  son  !  for,  what  I  love  thou  seek'st ! 


Strange  !     Of  thy  labours  no  more  memory  ? 
V  2 



All  those  were  less  than  these,  those  ills  I  bore  ! 


Who  sees  thee  grow  a  woman,^will  not  praise  ! 


I  live  low  to  thee  ?     Not  so  once,  I  think  ! 


Too  low  by  far  !    "  Famed  Herakles  " — where's  he  ? 


Down  amid  evils,  of  what  kind  wast  thou  ? 


As  far  as  courage — least  of  all  mankind  ! 



How  say'st,  then,  /  in  evils  shrink  to  nought  ? 


Forward  ! 


Farewell,  old  father  ! 


Thou  too,  son  ! 


Bury  the  boys  as  I  enjoined  ! 


And  mc — 
■\Vho  will  be  found  to  bury  now,  my  child  ? 



Myself ! 


When,  coming? 


When  thy  task  is  done. 




I  will  have  thee  carried  forth  from  Thebes 
To  Athens.     But  bear  in  the  children,  earth 
Is  burthened  by  !     Myself, — who  with  these  shames 
Have  cast  away  my  house, — a  ruined  hulk, 
I  follow — trailed  by  Theseus — on  my  way ; 


And  whoso  rather  would  have  wealth  and  strength 
Than  good  friends,  reasons  foolishly  therein  ! 


And  we  depart,  with  sorrow  at  heart, 
Sobs  that  increase  with  tears  that  start ; 
The  greatest  of  all  our  friends  of  yore, 
We  have  lost  for  evermore  ! 

When  the  long  silence  ended, — "  Our  best  friend — 
Lost,  our  best  friend  !  "  he  muttered  musingly. 


Then,  "  Lachares  the  sculptor  "  (half  aloud) 

"  Sinned  he  or  shmed  he  not  ?     '  Outrageous  sin  ! ' 

Shuddered  our  elders,  '  Pallas  should  be  clothed  : 

He  carved  her  naked.'     '  But  more  beautiful ! ' 

Answers  this  generation  :  '  Wisdom  formed 

For  love  not  fear  ! '     And  there  the  statue  stands, 

Entraps  the  eye  severer  art  repels. 

Moreover,  Pallas  wields  the  thunderbolt, 

Yet  has  not  struck  the  artist  all  this  while. 

Pheidias  and  Aischulos  ?     Euripides 

And  Lachares  ?     But  youth  will  have  its  way  ! 

The  ripe  man  ought  to  be  as  old  as  young — 

As  young  as  old.     I  too  have  youth  at  need. 

Much  may  be  said  for  stripping  wisdom  bare  ! 

"  And  who's  '  our  best  friend  '  ?     You  play  kottabos  ; 
Here's  the  last  mode  of  playing.     Take  a  sphere 
With  orifices  at  due  interval, 


Through  topmost  one  of  which,  a  throw  adroit 
Sends  wine  from  cup,  clean  passage,  from  outside 
To  where,  in  hollow  midst,  a  manikin 
SusjDended  ever  bobs  with  head  erect 
Right  underneath  whatever  hole's  a-top 
When  you  set  orb  a-rolling  :  plumb,  he  gets 
Ever  this  benediction  of  the  splash. 
An  other-fashioned  orb  presents  him  fixed  : 
Of  all  the  outlets,  he  fronts  only  one. 
And  only  when  that  one, — and  rare  the  chance, — 
Comes  uppermost,  docs  he  turn  upward  too  : 
He  can't  turn  all  sides  with  the  turning  orb. 
Inside  this  sphere  of  life, — all  objects,  sense 
And  soul  perceive, — Euripides  hangs  fixed. 
Gets  knowledge  through  the  single  aperture 
Of  High  and  Right  :  with  visage  fronting  these 
He  waits  the  wine  thence  ere  he  operate, 
Work  in  the  world  and  write  a  tragedy. 


When  that  hole  happens  to  revolve  to  point, 

In  drops  the  knowledge,  waiting  meets  reward. 

But,  duly  in  rotation,  Low  and  Wrong — 

When  these  enjoy  the  moment's  altitude, 

His  heels  are  found  just  where  his  head  should  be  ! 

No  knowledge  that  way  !     /am  moveable, — 

To  slightest  shift  of  orb  make  prompt  response, 

Face  Low  and  Wrong  and  Weak  and  all  the  rest, 

And  still  drink  knowledge,  wine-drenched  every  turn, — 

Equally  favoured  by  their  opposites. 

Little  and  Bad  exist,  are  natural  : 

Then  let  me  know  them,  and  be  twice  as  great 

As  he  who  only  knows  one  phase  of  life  ! 

So  doubly  shall  I  prove  '  best  friend  of  man,' 

If  I  report  the  whole  truth— Vice,  perceived 

While  he  shut  eyes  to  all  but  Virtue  there. 

Man's  made  of  both  :  and  both  must  be  of  use 

To  somebody  :  if  not  to  him,  to  me. 


While,  as  to  your  imaginary  Third 

Who, — stationed  (by  mechanics  past  my  guess) 

So  as  to  take  in  every  side  at  once. 

And  not  successively, — may  reconcile 

The  High  and  Lx)w  in  tragicomic  verse, — 

He  shall  be  hailed  superior  to  us  both 

When  bom— in  the  Tin-islands  !     Meantime,  here 

In  bright  Athenai,  I  contest  the  claim. 

Call  myself  lostephanos' '  best  friend,' 

Who  took  my  o\vn  course,  worked  as  I  descried 

Ordainment,  stuck  to  my  first  faculty ! 

"  For,  hsten  !     There's  no  failure  breaks  the  heart, 

Whate'er  be  man's  endeavour  in  this  world. 

Like  the  rash  poet's  when  he — nowise  fails 

By  poetizing  badly, — Zeus  or  makes 

Or  mars  a  man,  so — at  it,  merrily  ! 

But  when, — made  man, — much  like  myself, — equipt 


For  such  and  such  achievement, — rash  he  turns 
Out  of  the  straight  path,  bent  on  snatch  of  feat 
From — who's  the  appointed  fellow  born  thereto, — 
Crows  take  him  ! — in  your  Kassiterides  ? 
Half-doing  his  work,  leaving  mine  untouched, 
That  were  the  failure  !     Here  I  stand,  heart-whole. 
No  Thamuris  ! 

"  Well  thought  of,  Thamuris  ! 
Has  zeal,  pray,  for  '  best  friend '  Euripides 
Allowed  you  to  observe  the  honour  done 
His  elder  rival,  in  our  Poikil^  ? 
You  don't  know  ?     Once  and  only  once,  trod  stage, 
Sang  and  touched  lyre  in  person,  in  his  youth, 
Our  Sophokles, — youth,  beauty,  dedicate 
To  Thamuris  who  named  the  tragedy. 
The  voice  of  him  was  weak  ;  face,  limbs  and  lyre, 
These  were  worth  saving  :  Thamuros  stands  yet 


Perfect  as  painting  helps  in  such  a  case. 

At  least  you  know  the  story,  for  '  best  friend' 

Enriched  his  '  Rhesos '  from  the  BHnd  Bard's  store  ; 

So  haste  and  see  the  work,  and  lay  to  heart 

What  it  was  struck  me  when  I  eyed  the  piece  ! 

Here  stands  a  poet  punished  for  rash  strife 

With  Powers  above  his  power,  who  see  with  sight 

Beyond  his  vision,  sing  accordingly 

A  song,  which  he  must  needs  dare  emulate  ! 

Poet,  remain  the  man  nor  ape  the  Muse  ! 

'•  But — lend  me  the  psalterion  !     Nay,  for  once — 
Once  let  my  hand  fall  where  the  other's  lay  ! 
I  see  it,  just  as  I  were  Sophokles, 
That  sunrise  and  combustion  of  the  east ! " 

And  then  he  sang — are  these  unlike  the  words  ? 


Thamuris  marching, — lyre  and  song  of  Thrace — 
(Perpend  the  first,  the  worst  of  woes  that  were, 
Allotted  lyre  and  song,  ye  poet-race  !) 

Thamuris  from  Oichalia,  feasted  there 
By  kingly  Eurutus  of  late,  now  bound 
For  Dorion  at  the  uprise  broad  and  bare 

Of  Mount  Pangaios,  (ore  with  earth  enwound 
Glittered  beneath  his  footstep) — marching  gay 
And  glad,  Thessalia  through,  came,  robed  and  crowned, 

From  triumph  on  to  triumph,  mid  a  ray 

Of  early  mom, — came,  saw  and  knew  the  spot 

Assigned  him  for  his  worst  of  woes,  that  day. 

Balura — happier  while  its  name  was  not — 
Met  him,  but  nowise  menaced  ;  slipt  aside 
Obsequious  river,  to  pursue  its  lot 


Of  solacing  the  valley — say,  some  wide 
Thick  busy  human  cluster,  house  and  home, 
Embanked  for  peace,  or  thrift  that  thanks  the  tide. 

Thamuris,  marching,  laughed  "  Each  flake  of  foam  " 

(As  sparklingly  the  ripple  raced  him  by) 

"  Mocks  slower  clouds  adrift  in  the  blue  dome  !  " 

For  Autumn  was  the  season  ;  red  the  sky 

Held  mom's  conclusive  signet  of  the  sun 

To  break  the  mists  up,  bid  them  blaze  and  die. 

Mom  had  the  mastery  as,  one  by  one 

All  pomps  produced  themselves  along  the  tract 

From  earth's  far  ending  to  near  heaven  begun. 

Was  there  a  ravaged  tree  ?  it  laughed  compact 
With  gold,  a  leaf-ball  crisp,  high-brandished  now. 
Tempting  to  onset  frost  which  late  attacked. 


Was  there  a  wizened  shnib,  a  starveling  bough, 

A  fleecy  thistle  filched  from  by  the  wind, 

A  weed,  Pan's  trampling  hoof  would  disallow  ? 

Each,  with  a  glory  and  a  rapture  twined 
About  it,  joined  the  rush  of  air  and  light 
And  force  :  the  world  was  of  one  joyous  mind. 

Say  not  the  birds  flew  !  they  forbore  their  right — 
Swam,  revelling  onward  in  the  roll  of  things. 
Say  not  the  beasts'  mirth  bounded  !  that  was  flight- 
How  could  the  creatures  leap,  no  lift  of  wings  ? 
Such  earth's  community  of  purpose,  such 
The  ease  of  earth's  fulfilled  imaginings, — 

So  did  the  near  and  far  appear  to  touch 

I'  the  moment's  transport, — that  an  interchange 

Of  function,  far  with  near,  seemed  scarce  too  much  ; 


And  had  the  rooted  plant  aspired  to  range 
With  the  snake's  Ucense,  while  the  insect  yearned 
To  glow  fixed  as  the  flower,  it  were  not  strange — 

No  more  than  if  the  flattery  tree-top  turned 

To  actual  music,  sang  itself  aloft ; 

Or  if  the  wind,  impassioned  chantress,  earned 

The  right  to  soar  embodied  in  some  soft 
Fine  form  all  fit  for  cloud-companionship. 
And,  blissful,  once  touch  beauty  chased  so  oft. 

Thamuris,  marching,  let  no  fancy  slip 

Born  of  the  fiery  transport ;  lyre  and  song 

Were  his,  to  smite  with  hand  and  launch  from  lip  — 

Peerless  recorded,  since  the  list  grew  long 
Of  poets  (saith  Homtros)  free  to  stand 
Pedestaled  mid  the  Muses'  temple-throng, 


A  statued  service,  laureled,  lyre  in  hand, 
(Ay,  for  we  see  them)— Thamuris  of  Thrace 
Predominating  foremost  of  the  band. 

Therefore  the  morn-ray  that  enriched  his  face, 

If  it  gave  lambent  chill,  took  flame  again 

From  flush  of  pride  ;  he  saw,  he  knew  the  place. 

What  wind  arrived  with  all  the  rhythms  from  plain, 
Hill,  dale,  and  that  rough  wildwood  interspersed  ? 
Compounding  these  to  one  consummate  strain. 

It  reached  him,  music  ;  but  his  own  outburst 

Of  victory  concluded  the  account. 

And  that  grew  song  which  was  mere  music  erst. 

"  Be  my  Parnassos,  thou  Pangaian  mount ! 
And  turn  thee,  river,  nameless  hitherto  ! 
Famed  shalt  thou  vie  with  famed  Pieria's  fount  ! 


Here  I  await  the  end  of  this  ado  : 

Which  wins— Earth's  poet  or  the  Heavenly  Muse.  .  .  . 

But  song  broke  up  in  laughter.     "  Tell  the  rest, 
Who  may  !     /have  not  spurned  the  common  life, 
Nor  vaunted  mine  a  lyre  to  match  the  Muse 
Who  sings  for  gods,  not  men  !     Accordingly, 
I  shall  not  decorate  her  vestibule — 
Mute  marble,  blind  the  eyes  and  quenched  the  brain. 
Loose  in  the  hand  a  bright,  a  broken  lyre  ! 
— Not  Thamuris  but  Aristophanes  ! 

"  There  !     I  have  sung  content  back  to  myself. 
And  started  subject  for  a  play  beside. 
My  next  performance  shall  content  you  both. 
Did  '  Prelude-Battle  '  maul  '  best  friend  '  too  much  ? 
Then  '  Main-Fight '  be  my  next  song,  fairness'  self  ! 
Its  subject — Contest  for  the  Tragic  Crown. 
z  2 


Ay,  you  shall  hear  none  else  but  Aischulos 

Lay  down  the  law  of  Tragedy,  and  prove 

'  Best  friend  '  a  stray-away, — no  praise  denied 

His  manifold  deservings,  never  fear — 

Nor  word  more  of  the  old  fun  !     Death  defends  ! 

Sound  admonition  has  its  due  effect. 

Oh,  you  have  uttered  weighty  words,  believe  ! 

Such  as  shall  bear  abundant  fruit,  next  year, 

In  judgment,  regular,  legitimate. 

Let  Bacchos'  self  preside  in  person  !     Ay — 

For  there's  a  buzz  about  those  '  Bacchanals  ' 

Rumour  attributes  to  your  great  and  dead 

For  final  effort  :  just  the  prodigy 

Great  dead  men  leave,  to  lay  survivors  low  ! 

— Until  we  make  acquaintance  with  our  fate 

And  find,  fate's  worst  done,  we,  ihe  same,  survive 

Perchance  to  honor  more  the  patron-god, 

Fitlier  inaugurate  a  festal  year. 


Now  that  the  cloud  has  l)roken,  sky  laughs  bhie, 

Earth  blossoms  youthfully  !     Athenai  breathes  ! 

After  a  twenty-six  years'  wintry  blank 

Struck  from  her  life, — war-madness,  one  long  swoon, 

She  wakes  up  :  Arginousai  bids  good  cheer  ! 

We  have  disposed  of  Kallikratidas  ; 

Once  more  will  S])arte'  sue  for  terms,— who  knows  ? 

Cede  Dekeleia,  as  the  rumour  runs  : 

Terms  which  Athenai,  of  right  mind  again, 

Accepts — she  can  no  other  !     Peace  declared, 

Have  my  long  labours  borne  their  fruit  or  no  ? 

(kinned  coarse  buffoonery  so  oft  in  vain  ? 

Enough — it  simply  saved  you  !  saviours — praise 

Theoria's  beauty  and  Oporia's  breadth  ! 

Nor,  w^hen  Peace  realizes  promised  bliss, 

Forget  the  Bald  Bard,  Envy !  but  go  burst 

As  the  Clip  goes  round.,  and  the  cates  abound., 

Collops  of  hare,  ivith  roast  spinks  rare  ! 


Confess  my  pipings,  dancings,  posings  served 
A  purpose  :  guttlings,  guzzlings,  had  their  use  ! 
Say  whether  Hght  Muse,  Rosy-finger-tips, 
Or  '  best  friend's  '  Heavy-hand,  Melpomene', 
Touched  lyre  to  purpose,  played  Amphion's  part, 
And  built  Athenai  to  the  skies  once  more  ! 
Farewell,  brave  couple  !     Next  year,  welcome  me  ! 

No  doubt,  in  what  he  said  that  night,  sincere  ! 

One  story  he  referred  to,  false  or  fact, 

Was  not  without  adaptability. 

They  do  say — Lais  the  Corinthian  once 

Chancing  to  see  Eiu-ipides  (who  paced 

Composing  in  a  garden,  tablet-book 

In  left  hand,  with  appended  stulos  prompt) 

"  Answer  me,"  she  began,  "  O  Poet, — this  ! 

What  didst  intend  by  writing  in  thy  play 


Go  hang,  tJioii  filthy  doer  ?  "     Struck  on  heap, 

Euripides,  at  the  audacious  speech — 

"  Well  now,"  quoth  he,  "  thyself  art  just  the  one 

I  should  miagine  fit  for  deeds  of  filth  !  " 

She  laughingly  retorted  his  own  line 

"  What's  filth, — unless  who  does  it,  thinks  it  so?  " 

So  might  he  doubtless  think.     "  Farewell,"  said  we. 

And  he  was  gone,  lost  in  the  morning-grey, 

Rose-streaked  and  gold  to  eastward.     Did  we  dream  ? 

Could  the  j)oor  twelve-hours  hold  this  argument 

We  render  durable  from  fugitive. 

As  duly  at  each  sunset's  droop  of  sail. 

Delay  of  oar,  submission  to  sea-might, 

I  still  remember,  you  as  duly  dint 

Remembrance,  with  the  punctual  rapid  style. 

Into — what  calm  cold  page  ! 


Thus  soul  escapes 
From  eloquence  made  captive  :  thus  mere  words 
— Ah,  would  the  lifeless  body  stay  !     But  no  : 
Change  upon  change  till, — who  may  recognize 
What  did  soul  service,  in  the  dusty  heap  ? 
What  energy  of  Aristophanes 
Inflames  the  wreck  Balaustion  saves  to  show  ? 
Ashes  be  evidence  how  fire — and  srnoke — 
All  night  went  lamping  on  !     But  morn  must  rise. 
The  poet — I  shall  say — burned  up  and,  blank, 
Smouldered  this  ash,  now  white  and  cold  enough. 

Nay,  Euthukles  !  for  best,  though  mine  it  be, 
Comes  yet  !     Write  on,  write  ever,  wrong  no  word  ! 

Add,  first, — he  gone,  if  jollity  went  too, 

Some  of  the  graver  mood,  which  mixed  and  marred, 

Departed  likewise.     Sight  of  narrow  scope 


Has  this  meek  consolation  :  neither  ills, 
We  dread,  nor  joys,  we  dare  anticipate, 
Perform  to  promise.     Each  soul  sows  a  seed — 
Euripides  and  Aristophanes  ; 
Seed  bears  crop,  scarce  within  our  little  lives  ; 
But  germinates, — perhaps  enough  to  judge, — 
Next  year? 

Whereas,  next  year  brought  harvest- time  ! 
Eor,  next  year  came,  and  went  not,  but  is  now, 
Still  now,  while  you  and  I  are  bound  for  Rhodes 
That's  all  but  reached  ! — and  harvest  has  it  brought, 
Dire  as  the  homicidal  dragon-crop  ! 
Sophokles  had  dismissal  ere  it  dawned, 
Happy  as  ever  ;  though  men  mournfully 
Plausive, — when  only  soul  could  triumph  now, 
And  lophon  produced  his  foth-ir's  play, — 
Crowned  the  consummate  song  where  Oidipous 


Dared  the  descent  mid  earthquake-thundering, 
And  hardly  Theseus'  hands  availed  to  guard 
Eyes  from  the  horror,  as  their  grove  disgorged 
Its  dread  ones,  while  each  daughter  sank  to  ground. 

Then  Aristophanes,  on  heel  of  that, 
Triumphant  also,  followed  with  his  "  Frogs  :  " 
Produced  at  next  Lenaia, — three  months  since, — 
The  promised  Main-Fight,  loyal,  licence-free  ! 
As  if  the  poet,  primed  with  Thasian  juice, 
(Himself  swore — wine  that  conquers  every  kind 
For  long  abiding  in  the  head)  could  fix 
Thenceforward  any  object  in  its  truth, 
Through  eyeballs  bathed  by  mere  Castalian  dew, 
Nor  miss  the  borrowed  medium, — vinous  drop 
That  colours  all  to  the  right  crimson  pitch 
When  mirth  grows  mockery,  censure  takes  the  tinge 
Of  malice  ! 


All  was  Aristophanes  : 
There  blazed  the  glory,  there  shot  black  the  shame  ! 
Ay,  Bacchos  did  stand  forth,  the  Tragic  God 
In  person  !  and  when  duly  dragged  through  mire, — 
Having  lied,  filched,  played  fool,  proved  coward,  flung 
The  boys  their  dose  of  fit  indecency. 
And  finally  got  trounced  to  heart's  content, 
At  his  own  feast,  in  his  own  theatre 
( — Oh,  never  fear  !  'Twas  consecrated  sport, 
Exact  tradition,  warranted  no  whit 
Offensive  to  instmcted  taste, — indeed, 
Essential  to  Athenai's  liberty, 

Could  the  poor  stranger  understand  !)   why,  then — 
He  was  pronounced  the  rarely-qualified 
To  rate  the  work,  adjust  the  claim  to  worth, 
Of  Aischulos  (of  whom,  in  other  mood, 
This  same  appreciative  poet  pleased 
To  say  "  He's  all  one  stiff  and  gluey  piece 


Of  back  of  swine's  neck  !  ") — and  the  Chatterbox 
Who,  "  twisting  words  like  wool,"  usurped  his  seat 
In  Plouton's  realm  :  "  the  arch-rogue,  liar,  scamp 
That  lives  by  snatching-up  of  altar-orts," 
— Who  failed  to  recognize  Euripides? 

Then  came  a  contest  for  supremacy — 
Crammed  full  of  genius,  wit  and  fun  and  freak. 
No  spice  of  undue  spite  to  spoil  the  dish 
Of  all  sorts, — for  the  Mystics  matched  the  Frogs 
In  poetry,  no  Seiren  sang  so  sweet  ! — 
Till,  pressed  into  the  service  (how  dispense 
With  Phaps-Elaphion  and  free  foot-display?) 
The  Muse  of  dead  Euripides  danced  frank, 
Rattled  her  bits  of  tile,  made  all  too  plain 
How  baby-work  like  "  Herakles '"'  had  birth  ! 
Last,  Bacchos, — candidly  disclaiming  brains 
Able  to  follow  finer  argument, — 


Confessed  himself  much  moved  by  three  main  facts  : 

First, — if  you  stick  a  '  Lost  his  flask  of  oil ' 

At  pause  of  period,  you  perplex  the  sense — 

^^'ere  it  the  Elegy  for  Marathon  ! 

Next,  if  you  weigh  two  verses,  '  car ' — the  word, 

^^'ill  outweigh  '  club ' — the  word,  each  word-packed  line  ! 

And — last,  worst  fact  of  all  I  in  rivalry 

The  younger  poet  dared  to  improvise 

Laudation  less  distinct  of  Triphales — 

(Nay,  that  served  when  ourself  abused  the  youth  !) 

Pheidippides — (nor  that's  appropriate  now  !) 

Then, — Alkibiades,  our  city's  hope, 

Since  times  change  and  we  Comics  should  change  too  ! 

These  three  main  facts,  well  weighed,   drew  judgment 

Conclusively  assigned  the  wretch  his  fate — 
"  Fate  due  "  admonished  the  sage  Mystic  choir, 
"  To  sitting,  prate-apace,  with  Sokrates, 


Neglecting  music  and  each  tragic  aid  !  " 
— All  ivound-iip  by  a  wish  "We  soon  may  cease 
From  certain  griefs,  and  warfare,  worst  of  them  !  " 
— Since,  deaf  to  Comedy's  persistent  voice, 
War  still  raged,  still  was  like  to  rage.     In  vain 
Had  Sparte  cried  once  more  "  For  granted  Peace 
We  give  you  Dekeleia  back  !  "     Too  shrewd 
Was  Kleophon  to  let  escape,  forsooth, 
The  enemy — at  final  gasp,  besides  ! 

So,  Aristophanes  obtained  the  prize, 

And  so  Athenai  felt  she  had  a  friend 

Far  better  than  her  "  best  friend,"  lost  last  year ; 

And    so,    such    fame    had   "Frogs"   that,  when  came 

This  i^resent  year,  those  Frogs  croaked  gay  again 
At  the  great  Feast,  Elaphebolion-month. 
Only — there  happened  Aigispotamoi  ! 


And,  in  the  midst  of  the  frog-merriment, 
Plump  o'  the  sudden,  pounces  stern  King  Stork 
On  the  light-liearted  people  of  the  marsh  ! 
Spartan  Lusandros  swooped  precipitate, 
Ended  Athenai,  rowed  her  sacred  bay 
With  oars  Avhich  brought  a  hundred  triremes  back 
Captive  ! 

And  first  word  of  the  conqueror 
Was  "  Down  with  those  Long  Walls,  Peiraios'  pride  ! 
Destroy,  yourselves,  your  bulwarks  !  Peace  needs  none  ! " 
And  "  We  obey  "  they  shuddered  in  their  dream. 

P>ut,  at  next  quick  imposure  of  decree — • 
"  No  longer  democratic  government  ! 
Henceforth  such  oligarchy  as  ourselves 
Please  to  appoint  you  ! '' — then  the  horror  stung 
Dreamers  awake  ;  they  started  up  a-stare 


At  the  half-helot  captain  and  his  crew 
— Spartans,  "  men  used  to  let  their  hair  grow  long, 
To  fast,  be  dirty,  and  just — Socratize  " — 
Whose  word  was  "  Trample  on  Themistokles  !  " 

So,  as  the  way  is  with  much  misery, 

The  heads  swam,  hands  refused  their  office,  hearts 

Sunk  as  they  stood  in  stupor.     "  Wreck  the  Walls  ? 

Ruin  Peiraios  ? — with  our  Pallas  armed 

For  interference  ? — Herakles  apprised, 

And  Theseus  hasting  ?     Lay  the  Long  Walls  low  ?  " 

Three  days  they  stood,  stared, — stonier  than  their  walls. 

Whereupon,  sleep  who  might,  Lusandros  woke  : 
Saw  the  prostration  of  his  enemy, 
Utter  and  absolute  beyond  belief, 
Past  hope  of  hatred  even.     I  surmise 


He  also  probably  saw  fade  in  fume 

Certain  fears,  bred  of  Bakis-prophecy, 

Nor  apprehended  any  more  that  gods 

And  heroes, — fire,  must  glow  forth,  guard  the  ground 

Where  prone,  by  sober  day-dawn,  corpse-like  lay 

Powerless  Athenai,  late  predominant 

Lady  of  Hellas, — Sparte's  slave-prize  now ! 

Where  should  a  menace  lurk  in  those  slack  limbs  ? 

What  was  to  move  his  circumspection  ?     Wh)- 

Demolish  just  Peiraios  ? 

"  Stay !  "  bade  he  : 
"  Already  promise-breakers  ?     True  to  type, 
Athenians  !  past,  and  present,  and  to  come, — 
The  fickle  and  the  false  !  No  stone  dislodged, 
No  implement  applied,  yet  three  days'  grace 
Expire  !     Forbearance  is  no  longer- lived. 
By  breaking  promise,  terms  of  peace  you  break — 

A  A 


Too  gently  framed  for  falsehood,  fickleness  ! 
All  must  be  reconsidered — yours  the  fault !  " 

Wherewith,  he  called  a  council  of  allies. 
Pent-up  resentment  used  its  privilege, — 
Outburst  at  ending  :  this  the  summed  result. 

"  Because  we  would  avenge  no  transient  wrong 
But  an  eternity  of  insolence, 
Aggression, — folly,  no  disasters  mend, 
Pride,  no  reverses  teach  humility, — 
Because  too  plainly  were  all  punishment, 
Such  as  comports  with  less  obdurate  crime, 
Evadible  by  falsehood,  fickleness — 
Experience  proves  the  true  Athenian  type, — 
Therefore,  'tis  need  we  dig  deep  down  into 
The  root  of  evil ;  lop  nor  bole  nor  branch. 
Look  up,  look  round  and  see,  on  every  side, 


What  nurtured  the  rank  tree  to  noisome  fruit  I 
We  who  hve  hutted  (so  they  laugh)  not  housed, 
Build  barns  for  temples,  prize  mud-monuments. 
Nor  show  the  sneering  stranger  aught  but — men, — 
Spartans  take  insult  of  Athenians  just 
Because  they  boast  Akropolis  to  mount. 
And  Propulaia  to  make  entry  by. 
Through  a  mad  maze  of  marble  arrogance 
Such  as  you  see — such  as  let  none  see  more  ! 
Abolish  the  detested  luxury  ! 
Leave  not  one  stone  upon  another,  raze 
Athenai  to  the  rock  !     Let  hill  and  plain 
Become  a  waste,  a  grassy  pasture-ground 
Where  sheep  may  wander,  grazing  goats  dei)end 
From  sha])eless  crags  once  columns  !  so  at  last 
Shall  peace  inhabit  there,  and  peace  enough." 

Whereon,  a  shout  approved  "  Such  peace  bestow  !  " 
A  A  2 


Then  did  a  Man  of  Phokis  rise — O  heart ! 
Rise — when  no  bolt  of  Zeus  disparted  sky, 
No  omen-bird  from  Pallas  scared  the  crew, 
Rise — when  mere  human  argument  could  stem 
No  foam-fringe  of  the  passion  surging  fierce, 
Baffle  no  wrath-wave  that  o'er  barrier  broke — 
Who  was  the  Man  of  Phokis  rose  and  flung 
A  flower  i'  the  way  of  that  fierce  foot's  advance. 
Which — stop  for? — nay,  had  stamped  down  sword's 

assault ! 
Could  it  be  He  stayed  Sparte  with  the  snatch 
"  Daughter  of  Agamemnon,  late  my  liege, 
Elektra,  palaced  once,  a  visitant 
To  thy  poor  rustic  dwelling,  now  I  come  ?  '' 

Ay,  facing  fury  of  revenge,  and  lust 

Of  hate,  and  malice  moaning  to  appease 

Hunger  on  prey  presumptuous,  prostrate  now — 


Full  in  the  hideous  flices— last  resource, 
He  flung  that  choric  flower,  my  Euthukles  ! 

And  see,  as  through  some  pinhole,  should  the  wind 

A\'edgingly  pierce  but  once,  in  with  a  rush 

Hurries  the  whole  wild  weather,  rends  to  rags 

The  weak  sail  stretched  against  the  outside  storm — 

So  did  the  power  of  that  triumphant  play 

Pour  in,  and  oversweep  the  assembled  foe  ! 

Triumphant  play,  wherein  our  poet  first 

Dared  bring  the  grandeur  of  the  Tragic  Two 

Down  to  the  level  of  our  common  life, 

Close  to  the  beating  of  our  common  heart. 

Elektra  ?     'Twas  Athenai,  Sparte's  ice 

Thawed  to,  while  that  sad  portraiture  appealed— 

Agamemnonian  lad}',  lost  by  fault 

Of  her  own  kindred,  cast  from  house  and  home, 

Despoiled  of  all  the  brave  inheritance. 


Dowered  humbly  as  befits  a  herdsman's  mate, 
Partaker  of  his  cottage,  clothed  in  rags, 
Patient  performer  of  the  poorest  chares, 
Yet  mindful,  all  the  while,  of  glory  past 
When  she  walked  darling  of  Mukenai,  dear 
Beyond  Orestes  to  the  King  of  Men  ! 

So,   because   Greeks   are    Greeks,   though    Sparte's 

And  hearts  are  hearts,  though  in  Lusandros'  breast, 
And  poetry  is  power,  and  Euthukles 
Had  faith  therein  to,  full-face,  fling  the  same — 
Sudden,  the  ice-thaw  !     The  assembled  foe, 
Heaving  and  swaying  with  strange  friendliness, 
Cried  "  Reverence  Elektra  !  " — cried  "  Abstain 
Like  that  chaste  Herdsman,  nor  dare  violate 
The  sanctity  of  such  reverse  !     Let  stand 
Athenai  ! " 


Mindful  of  that  story's  close, 
Perchance,  and  how, — when  he,  the  Herdsman  chaste, 
Needs  apprehend  no  break  of  tranquil  sleep, — 
All  in  due  time,  a  stranger,  dark,  disguised, 
Knocks  at  the  door  :  with  searching  glance,  notes  keen. 
Knows  quick,  through  mean  attire  and  disrespect, 
The  ravaged  princess  !     Ay,  right  on,  the  clutch 
Of  guiding  retribution  has  in  charge 
The  author  of  the  outrage  !    While  one  hand, 
Elektra's,  pulls  the  door  behind,  made  flist 
On  fate, — the  other  strains,  prepared  to  push 
The  victim-queen,  should  she  make  frightened  pause 
Before  that  serpentining  blood  which  steals 
Out  of  the  darkness  where,  a  pace  beyond. 
Above  the  slain  Aigisthos,  bides  his  blow 
Dreadful  Orestes ! 

Klutaimnestra,  wise 


This  time,  forbore  ;  Elektra  held  her  own  ; 
Saved  was  Athenai  through  Euripides, 
Through  Euthukles,  through — more  than  ever—  me, 
Balaustion,  me,  who,  Wild-pomegranate-flower, 
Felt  my  fruit  triumph,  and  fade  proudly  so ! 

But  next  day,  as  ungracious  minds  are  wont, 

The  Spartan,  late  surprised  into  a  grace, 

Grew  sudden  sober  at  the  enormity. 

And  grudged,  by  day-break,  midnight's  easy  gift ; 

Splenetically  must  repay  its  cost 

By  due  increase  of  rigour,  doglike  snatch 

At  aught  still  left  dog  to  concede  like  man. 

Rough  sea,  at  flow  of  tide,  may  lip,  perchance. 

Smoothly  the  land-line  reached  as  for  repose — 

Lie  indolent  in  all  unquestioned  sway  ; 

But  ebbing,  when  needs  must,  all  thwart  and  loth, 

Sea  claws  at  sand  relinquished  strugglingly. 


So,  harsh  Lusandros — pinioned  to  inflict 
The  lesser  penalty  alone — spoke  harsh, 
As  minded  to  embitter  scathe  by  scorn. 

"  Athenai's  self  be  saved  then,  thank  the  Lyre  I 

if  Tragedy  withdraws  her  i)rescnce — quick, 

If  Comedy  replace  her, — Avhat  more  just  ? 

Let  Comedy  do  service,  frisk  away. 

Dance  off  stage  these  indomitable  stones, 

Long  Walls,  Peiraian  bulwarks  !     Hew  and  heave, 

Pick  at,  pound  into  dust  each  dear  defence  ! 

Not  to  the  Kommos — deleldcu 

^^^ith  breast  bethumped,  as  Tragic  lyre  prefers. 

Put  Comedy  shall  sound  the  flute,  and  crow 

At  kordax-end — the  hearty  slapping-dance  ! 

Collect  those  flute-girls — trash  who  flattered  ear 

With  whistlings,  and  fed  eye  with  caper-cuts, 

While  we  Lakonians  supped  black  broth  or  crunched 


Sea  urchin,  conchs  and  all,  unpricked — coarse  brutes  ! 
Command  they  lead  off  step,  time  steady  stroke 
To  spade  and  pickaxe,  till  demolished  lie 
Athenai's  pride  in  powder  !  " 

Done  that  day— 
That  sixteenth  famed  day  of  Munuchion-month  ! 
The  day  when  Hellas  fought  at  Salamis, 
The  very  day  Euripides  was  born, 
Those  flute-girls — Phaps-Elaphion  at  their  head — 
Did  blow  their  best,  did  dance  their  worst,  the  while 
Sparte  pulled  down  the  walls,  wrecked  wide  the  works. 
Laid  low  each  merest  molehill  of  defence. 
And  so  the  Power,  Athenai,  passed  away  ! 

We  would  not  see  its  passing  !     Ere  I  knew 
The  issue  of  their  counsels, — crouching  low 
And  shrouded  by  my  peplos,-^!  conceived. 

ARISroniANES'    APOLOGY.  363 

Despite  the  shut  eyes,  the  stopped  ears, — by  count 
Only  of  heart-beats,  teUing  the  slow  time, — 
Athenai's  doom  was  signed  and  signified 
In  that  assembly, — ay,  but  knew  there  watched 
One  who  would  dare  and  do,  nor  bate  at  all 
The  stranger's  licensed  duty, — speak  the  word 
Allowed  the  Man  from  Phokis  !     Nought  remained 
But  urge  departure,  flee  the  sights  and  sounds, 
Hideous  exultings,  wailings  worth  contempt, 
And  press  to  other  earth,  new  heaven,  by  sea 
That  somehow  ever  prompts  to  'scape  despair. 
Help  rose  to  heart's  wish  ;  at  the  harbour-side. 
The  old  grey  mariner  did  reverence 
To  who  had  saved  his  ship,  still  weather-tight 
As  when  with  prow  gay -garlanded  she  praised 
The  hospitable  port  and  pushed  to  sea. 
"  Convoy  Balaustion  back  to  Rhodes,  for  sake 
Of  her  and  her  Euripides  !  "  laughed  he. 


Rhodes, — shall  it  not  be  there,  my  Euthukles, 

Till  this  brief  trouble  of  a  life-time  end, 

That  solitude — two  make  so  populous  ! — 

For  food  finds  memories  of  the  past  suffice, 

May  be,  anticipations, — hope  so  swells, — 

Of  some  great  future  we,  familiar  once 

With  who  so  taught,  should  hail  and  entertain  ? 

He  lies  now  in  the  little  valley,  laughed 

And  moaned  about  by  diose  mysterious  streams, 

Boiling  and  freezing,  like  the  love  and  hate 

AVhich  helped  or  harmed  him  through  his  earthly  course. 

They  mix  in  Arethousa  by  his  grave. 

The  warm  spring,  traveller,  dip  thine  arms  into. 

Brighten  thy  brow  with  !     Life  detests  black  cold  ! 

I  sent  the  tablets,  the  psalterion,  so 
Rewarded  Sicily  ;  the  tyrant  there 
Bestowed  them  worthily  in  Phoibos'  shrine. 


A  gold-graved  writing  tells — "  I  also  loved 
The  poet,  Free  Athenai  cheaply  prized — 
King  Dionusios, — Arclielaos-likc  I" 

And  see  if  young  Philemon, — sure  one  day 

To  do  good  service  and  be  loved  himself, — 

I  f  he  too  have  not  made  a  votive  verse  ! 

"  Grant,  in  good  sooth,  our  great  dead,  all  the  same, 

Retain  their  sense,  as  certain  wise  men  say, 

I'd  hang  myself — to  see  Euripides  !  " 

Hands  off,  Philemon  !  nowise  hang  thyself, 

But  pen  the  prime  plays,  labour  the  right  life, 

And  die  at  good  old  age  as  grand  men  use, — 

Keeping  thee,  with  that  great  thought,  warm  the  while, — 

That  he  does  live,  Philemon  !     Ay,  most  sure  ! 

"  He  lives  !  "  hark, — waves  say,  winds  sing  out  the  same. 

And  yonder  dares  the  citied  ridge  of  Rhodes 

Its  headlong  plunge  from  sky  to  sea,  disparts 


North  bay  from  south, — each  guarded  calm,  that  guest 

May  enter  gladly,  blow  what  wind  there  will, — 

Boiled  round  with  breakers,  to  no  other  cry  ! 

All  in  one  choros, — what  the  master-word 

They  take  up? — hark  !  "  There  are  no  gods,  no  gods  ! 

Glory  to  God — who  saves  Euripides  !  " 





New  and  Uniform  Edition,  6  vols.  fcp.  8vo.  each  5^. 

or,   Turf  and  Tinvcrs. 
Fcp.  8vo.  9J-. 

The  RING  and  the  BOOK. 
4  vols.  fcp.  8vo.  each  5^. 


Including    a     Transcript    from    Euripides. 

Fcp.  8vo.  5J-. 

FIFINE  at  the  FAIR. 
Fcp.  8vo.  5j. 


Saviour  of  Society. 

Fcp.  8vo.  5^. 


Ninth    Edition,    5   vols,    crown    8vo.    with    Portrait,     305-. 

Three  Volumes,  uniformly  bound  in  cloth,  gilt  edges,  each  8^.  6</.  ; 
cloth,  plain  edges,  each  qs.   6d. 

1.  A  SELECTION  from  the  POETRY  of  ELIZA- 

BETH BARRETT  BROWNING.     With  a  Portrait 
of  the  Author. 

2.  A  SELECTION   from  the  POETICAL  WORKS 


3.  AURORA     LELGH.      By    Elizabeth    Barratt 

Browning.     With  a  Portrait  of  the  Author. 






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